We have lots of exciting news to share with you during these "Dog Days"of Summer.
The first is, we got the good news from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund that they have approved a grant to support our financial education program! Thank you to the Confederated Tribe of Grand Ronde for continuing your Native tradition of potlatch, a ceremony at which good fortune is distributed; we appreciate your generosity!
And, just when you figured out the shortest path to our office, Innovative Changes has moved! We have moved down the hall to suite 2010 of the Lloyd Center Mall. In our ongoing effort to provide our clients with the best service possible, we now have a larger classroom, a client meeting room, and a family friendly waiting area. We continue to share the suite with Cash Oregon, who now has a permanent tax prep site. We are still on the third floor of the mall, on the Nordstrom end of the main atrium, between Carrington College and Management Recruiters, in suite 2010. Stop in to say hi, and give us a call if you are having trouble locating us (503) 249-5205. Innovative Changes still has an office at New Columbia for meetings by appointment only. Please update our mailing address in your contact list to 2010 Lloyd Center Mall, Portland, Oregon 97232. Our phones and emails stay the same!
We are pleased to announce that as of August 1st, any borrower in good standing with Innovative Changes can refer people they know to us for our credit builder loan. Our credit builder loan is a secured loan that one can take out for the sole purpose of building credit. Our borrowers in good standing have demonstrated responsible borrowing behavior with us, so we naturally want to encourage them to send us people just like them! Sharing access to building credit is a great way for people to share positive financial behavior with their family, friends and co-workers. In addition, any individual that has completed all four parts of our Financial Household Resiliency workshop can now apply for a credit builder loan. Our opportunity loan, a small dollar loan that is used for a specific purpose, is still only available by referral by one of our 38 community partners.
And finally, we were happy to share our expertise in two pieces of public education. We were called on by KGW NewsChannel 8 to provide technical content to their story on back to school budgeting. Talia did a great job highlighting our top five tips for budgeting and how to make the most of preparing for the back to school season. You can watch the segment here. In addition, we joined with the Credit Builder's Alliance on a CFED and NeighborWorks webinar were we discussed our work as it relates to the theme "Credit building is asset bulding". You can view the archived webinar in the events section of the CFED web site here.
Here's to more blue skies and sunshiny days!
All the best,
Reba came through the door of the Innovative Changes office with a burst of energy. She had just gone through a string of bad luck: a close relative recently died, she was dealing with a persistent work related injury that she wasn't being compensated for and the week before she had gotten into a minor car accident. While waiting for roadside assistance she was mugged and her wallet was stolen. On top of all this, in the past year her home had been foreclosed on, partially due to a negligent lawyer who failed to notify her that she had been accepted into a mortgage assistance program.
Although distressed about her situation, Reba was thankful that she had stable and affordable housing at one of Innovative Changes referring partners, REACH CDC, and a stable job at a local hospital. Reba had just completed a budgeting class through REACH and felt invigorated to change her financial situation. Noticing Reba's motivation, REACH CDC told her about Innovative Changes.
Reba was specifically interested in building her credit. Due to her work related injury, lawyer fees during her foreclosure and other unexpected expenses she had accrued a lot of debt that she was unable to pay. She declared bankruptcy to start on a clean slate and was determined to keep it that way.
At Reba's first coaching session with Innovative Changes, she discussed her goals of stability and home ownership. Her first step with her financial coach was to pull her free Equifax report at annualcreditreport.com and go over it item by item. According to the report, all of her debt had been discharged in her bankruptcy except for a car loan which was accruing interest at a high rate, owed on a vehicle that had been reposed! Reba was making hefty monthly payments for her repossessed car to the auto loan company. It seemed fishy that this debt had not been included in her bankruptcy, but since she often received demanding calls from the auto loan company, Reba assumed that she had to pay the debt.
Reba and her coach pulled her other credit reports. There, they found that the debt had in fact been covered in her Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Right away, Reba wanted to take action. Reba decided to speak with the auto loan company. She and her financial coach created a script of what to say and ask for. They also looked at sample dispute letters so Reba could go home and write a dispute letter to the credit bureaus on her own. It took Reba several visits and calls to the auto loan company to get someone to give her a record of payments. When she finally got someone to give her information he sheepishly acknowledged the company's error. Reba got in touch with a lawyer at her work that helped her recover over $2000 that she had paid the predatory loan company since her bankruptcy.
Riding that wave of success, Reba took out an Innovative Changes' credit builder loan, a secured 12-month no interest loan with small monthly payments. With no outstanding debt, the credit builder loan served as a way to open a positive line of credit on her report and show a history of responsible payments. Since then she has been making on time payments and in just three months her TransUnion Interactive Score has gone from 473 to 621. Due to her dispute letters, the car loan is being correctly reported on all three of her credit reports.
Gaining hope through her credit work, Reba was further inspired to start actively pursuing her dream of owning a house again. She is planning to enroll in a home buyer Individual Development Account and is saving on a monthly basis for a down payment on a new home. Her credit builder loan will help her qualify for a better mortgage. She is actively involved in her community and has referred family to Innovative Changes for financial coaching and our Education IDA.
"It is great to see Reba feeling in control of her finances. I don't think she realized she had so many options," says Rene Davison, Reba's case worker at REACH CDC. "She has made so much progress and the long term nature of her IDA will give her more time to build her credit with Innovative Changes. She has been great at accessing resources and finding ways to help herself."
Reba is a great example of a motivated individual who proactively takes steps and remain persistent in meeting her long term goals. Innovative Changes feels lucky to have worked with Reba and looks forward to seeing her accomplish even more goals in the future!
|Partner Spotlight: 211 info
Some say it takes a village to raise a child. We'd like to adapt that and say, it takes a village to support a person. A large reason why we can be successful in the work that we do is because our services are among many within the community. Many people hear about us because they are already working with other social service providers to improve their life. Financial management, savings and access to credit are key tools for working towards life goals. In addition, when we meet with clients, often they leave with a list of other organizations to contact or resources to look into. Our work is so intertwined with other community resources that it's hard not to talk about them all the time! Over the past year,
211info, the community resource of community resources, has helped us spread the word about our services. People can call or search through the 211 database to find resources that meet their needs. In a busy world where it can be difficult to navigate your way through a crisis or overwhelming to find out about all the services offered in your community, 211 makes this process easy and accessible. Because 211 has been an asset to our program, we checked in with Matt Kinshella, Director of Communications and Online Services at 211. Keep reading to hear what he has to say about connected communities!
What do you do at 211? What drew you to this work? How long have you been there?
I'm the Director of Communications and Online Services. As you know from working at a nonprofit, though, titles are far from all-encompassing. Among other things, I oversee our marketing/communications efforts, all our online service delivery (website, blog, social media, email) and lead the charge on some innovative ventures. I have been at 211info a little more than 3 years. I've always worked in either politics or the nonprofit sector. I just love working for good causes.
How has 211 changed over the time that you have been there?
We have grown immensely and are still growing. We have doubled our staff size, increased our 211 service area (we'll be statewide by the end of the year) and expanded the ways in which we serve people. When I started here we were known as a general phone service. Now we provide so many more ways for people to get help. We receive the same number of website visits as we do phone calls. We just launched a new text messaging service that allows anyone to have a text conversation with someone in our office by texting their zip code to 898211. And we have a pretty successful email resource digest and social media presence.
We're innovating on the phone, too. We have a range of new services including an on-staff parent educator. Soon we'll have a military/veterans specialist, a health care specialist, housing specialist and a maternal and child health specialists. Very exciting time to be working at 211info!
How does Innovative Changes fit in with your/211s work?
Most importantly we are serving many of the same people. Of the 250,000-plus client contacts we make every year on the phone and web, very few of them have simple problems. Life's challenges are multi-faceted and overwhelming at times. That means our neighbors need a network of service providers who can support them as complete human beings. We help make sure they know whom to turn to for all their issues. And you are there to make sure they get the financial education and support they need. Without that financial component people can't emerge out of difficult situations. And there are many other providers that help out with food, housing, clothes and a myriad of other needs. This all takes teamwork, but it is completely worth the effort when we can bring stability to a person's life.
What's your vision for a more connected community that can utilize community resources effectively?
There's a lot the community does well. But we still have growing to do when it comes to being connected. It is a cliche, but services are too siloed. I'm excited, being a technology dork, because conversations about how we can better use 21st century tools to break down barriers between agencies are happening everywhere. Our big picture goal is to give someone in need seamless access to services through integrated technology, give them the tangible and emotional support they need and empower them with knowledge and a plan.
Referring Partner Orientation
Would you like to become a partner of Innovative Changes? Interested in refering clients for our loans, financial education and individual coaching sessions? Want to learn more about our programs? Attend our Referring Partner Orientation webinar.
The webinar orientation will take place on Wednesday, September 12th from 10:30-11:30am. If you or your coworkers are interested in participating please register here:
This orientation is required for anyone who would like to refer clients for Innovative Changes (IC$) loans and a great way to get to know more about IC$. During the webinar we will go through IC$ programs and services, walk you through the process of referring a client and discuss what happens after you make a referral.
|Financial Education Galore:
Our financial education is picking up again at the end of the summer. Next week, we are excited to be joined by financial planner Jennifer de Thomas for a seminar on Retirement and Planning for the Future. Our Financial Empowerment Clinics will also be a space in which people can drop in and learn tangible ways to plan ahead. And, we are now in the groove of teaching our Financial Household Resiliency workshops every other month, so you will find us in our new classroom every Tuesday evening in August. Stop by!
Planning for the Future: Retirement 101
Thursday, August 16th, 2010 Lloyd Center Mall 6-7pm
When is the right time to start saving for retirement? How do you decided which long term goals to save for first and how do you start? It is never too early to start planning for tomorrow today! The sooner you start planning for your future the better and every bit you save counts! Come to this informative seminar and join Financial Planner Jennifer de Thomas as she walks us through the basics of saving for retirement. Bring your questions, thoughts and ideas and prepare for a lively discussion on retirement and saving for the future!
Back to School Budgeting
Wednesday, August 29th, 2025 Lloyd Center Mall 5:30-6:30pm
Back to school time can be hectic. New routines, new teachers, new friends, new clothes: there is a lot of "new" to get used to. In this workshop on Back to School Budgeting we will go over tips and tools so that you can use the beginning of the school year as a time to reset, get organized and hone in on systems that will keep you and your household on track throughout the year. Budgeting is a key step to help you plan for unexpected expenses that come at the beginning, middle and end of the school year. Come to this workshop and start taking the steps that will lead to a more organized, prepared and enjoyable year!
Tackling Student Loan Debt
Tuesday, September 25th, 2010 Lloyd Center Mall 6-7pm
Are past student loans getting in the way of enjoying life? Do you have trouble keeping track of your debt? Come to this seminar and start taking steps to deal with student loan debt! In this workshop participants will learn how to take an inventory of outstanding student loans, keep student loans in good standing, and create a manageable plan for repayment. Other topics of interest will include: the consequences of student loan default, how to rehabilitate student loans that are in default, the Income Based Repayment plan and its benefits, and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Free Financial Empowerment Clinics: Save the dates!
September 15th 1-4pm at the Midland Library
October 6th time TBA at the Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave
Have a question about retirement planning? Creating a will or long term financial plan for your family? Have you ever wanted to meet with a financial planner but can't afford one? Come to a financial empowerment clinic. At these clinics you get the chance to sit down with a professional, discuss whatever you want and receive pro-bono advice with no strings attached! There will also be workshops on budgeting, credit and saving and resources on other community programs and services that you can take advantage of!
No registration or fees required for seminars hosted at libraries. Please sign up for the Lloyd Center seminars and Financial Empowerment Clinics by calling or emailing Misha at (503)-249-5205/ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Financial Household Resiliency (FHR) Workshops:
We just finished our Spanish version of the four part series in partnership with Hacienda CDC and the financial education doesn't stop! We are offering our 4-part series in English this month, so help us spread the word and sign up today!
August Financial Household Resiliency Series
Tuesday, August 7th, 5:30-7:30 pm: Making Ends Meet
Tuesday, August 14th, 5:30-7:30 pm: Budgeting and Saving
Tuesday, August 21st 5:30-7:30 pm: Hands-On Banking
Tuesday, August 28th 5:30-7:30 pm: Building, Repairing and Protecting Credit
These classes will be held at our Lloyd Center office on the 3rd floor of the Lloyd Center Mall (between Nordstroms and the food court), 2010 Lloyd Center.The classes can be taken individually or as a series. They are $5 each and $15 for all four classes. Fee waivers are available for those who qualify.
To Register: visit our website or call or email Misha at (503)-249-5205/ email@example.com.
You Can Help!
You care about helping people achieve and maintain household stability. Now you can join our efforts at Innovative Changes as we expand our reach to serve more clients. Your generous donation will be put to good use!
Whatever amount you can afford, you can set it up for monthly automatic payments to ease your cash flow. If you have bill pay service with your bank you can set up Innovative Changes to receive regular monthly payments. If you prefer, we can process a monthly ACH transaction on your behalf. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your monthly giving program.
Thank you for your support!
Quick StatsAs of 8/7/2012
389, averaging $468 for a total of $181,900
Revolved amount: $139,100
Repaid loans: 206
Financial education clients: