Please join us as we send out a huge thank you to the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation for supporting our asset building work. The two year grant will enable us to reach more people with responsive and relevant financial education, fair and transparent financial products and essential asset building opportunities. Their mission to transform lives and strengthen communities through fostering innovation, creating knowledge and promoting social progress motivates us to do all we can to help people achieve and maintain long term financial well-being. Gracias, Merci, Asante sana!
January finds us with a record number of workshops and seminars, as we team up with CASH Oregon to help people get ready for tax time, we are offering our usual suite of classes for the public here at the Lloyd Center, and we are providing contracted classes to Home Forward, The Black Parent Initiative and in Spanish to employees of Verde NW. We have openings in our matched savings program for post secondary education, and our lending work continues to expand. Look for some exciting news in February about a new use of our opportunity loan!
Now is a great time to help your clients fulfill their New Year's resolutions of getting their finances in order, so contact us if you would like to learn more about our products and services, and to become a referring partner.
Here's to a prosperous and stable 2013 for all!
All the best,
Kat was directed to IC$ through her college success coordinator at Portland Youth Builders (PYB), a non-profit school that provides education, vocational training, and leadership development services for youth, in hopes of finding a way to help her pay for college. She was getting her Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer Degree at Portland Community College and knew that whatever school she went to next would be more expensive. Kat was already familiar with the concept of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). She had successfully participated in an education IDA with PYB and was able to buy a Mac Book, cover some of her tuition and supply costs with it. Committed to continuing her education and obtaining a four year degree, Kat decided that another IDA was the way to go. She came to our IDA orientation, filled out the forms and before she knew it, was ready to start saving every month.
Now that she had some funding in order, the next step was figuring out where she would go to school. Kat looked into nearby schools and was drawn to Lewis and Clark after visiting the serene campus. She applied and got in. Kat reflects, "It just seemed like the right place for me. I didn't realize how great their reputation was until after I got in!"
She explains, "I am the first person in my immediate family to go to college and to get a degree. I grew up in a not so wealthy household and observed what that lifestyle had in store for me. I decided that I didn't want to live that way so I am trying to pursue bigger and better things through school. I love learning, I love being on campus and academia feels like home to me."
Kat has chosen to study psychology, because she "likes observing human behavior and trying to figure out why people do the things they do." She says that since mental illness runs in her family she "grew up with good examples of what abnormal psychology looks like. This is probably a big reason why I am interested in figuring it out: to learn more about my family."
In her first semester at Lewis and Clark, Kat excelled at her classes and at making her monthly IDA payments on time. On top of school and a part-time job, she found time to complete her IDA requirements which includes attending ten hours of financial education. She says that at first it was hard to get herself to attend the classes with everything else in her life, but she walked away with some valuable tools and information. She remarks, "In the budgeting class I learned about mint.com and I've been using often ever since. The banking class was co-taught by a banker who came in and broke down all the banking lingo, this helped a lot."
By December, Kat got to experience the fruits of her saving back making her first IDA withdrawal for Winter 2013 tuition. She says that the key to her IDA and financial success is online banking. "I check my bank account every day to make sure I have enough to pay my bills and know exactly how much I have to spend for all the things I need to do." She learned this skill the hard way, as most of us do: "When I was 19, I got a couple credit cards and had just moved out on my own. I got myself into a lot of debt and lowered my credit score significantly." Kat ended up moving back home and attending credit seminars at her local credit union to learn how to repair her credit so she wouldn't make the same mistakes again.
Right now school is Kat's number one priority, but beyond school, Kat says, "I want to travel and experience different cultures as much as I can!" She is saving up money to go visit a friend in Paris this summer and is thinking about joining the Peace Corps after college. Innovative Changes is lucky to have Kat as a model saver in our IDA program and excited to see her grow, learn and explore in the coming years (all while avoiding some student debt!).
|Partner Spotlight: Mitzi Smith, Maps Credit Union
In November we went Salem to host a Training of the Trainers session in our Financial Household Resiliency curriculum. Mitzi Smith of Maps Credit Union organized this session and is a driving force expanding the amount financial education taught in the Salem area. Mitzi's work allows us to reach more people with our curriculum across the state without having to take long trips! In 2012, Maps facilitated 63 financial education classes in partnership with local schools and non-profit organizations. These classes were delivered to more than 950 individuals in Marion and Polk counties. As we spoke with Mitzi about this recently, her enthusiasm and passion for financial education was immediately apparent so we wanted to capture this in an interview for you in our monthly newsletter!
Can you tell us a little about Maps?
Maps Credit Union began as a teachers credit union in 1935. Since that time, we have expanded to be able to serve our entire community. The Maps Community Foundation is the charitable affiliate of Maps Credit Union and was established as a 501c3 organization in 2012. This is also where I spend most of my time. The work we do at the foundation focuses on asset development and lifelong learning, including financial empowerment.
What's your role at Maps? What drew you to this work?
I am the Community Development Officer (CDO) for Maps Credit Union. I have worked for the credit union for eleven years now, ten years at various branches, before assuming my role as CDO a little over a year ago. While working at the branch, I had the opportunity to work with members one on one. Two of my favorite things about that work were offering relevant products or services that fit the needs of members and helping members become more financially secure by either refinancing their loans and saving money on interest or by developing individual plans to reduce debt. Now I am able to take what I learned doing that to help empower members of our community to take control of their finances in a group setting.
Why do you think financial education is important? What's your favorite topic to teach about?
Financial education is so important because it can mean saving money long term and is one tool for reaching goals. An individual who recognizes "budget busters" and makes a change to their budget can accomplish goals that otherwise may seem unobtainable. Talking about finances isn't one of the most enjoyable topics for families and individuals, but having tools to track expenses and build credit tend to make it easier. The lending session of the series is my favorite class to teach. There are so many misunderstandings about building credit, and this class provides clear direction for improving or repairing credit.
How does Innovative Changes fit in with your work?
The Household Financial Resiliency curriculum developed by Innovative Changes is the main curriculum we use when facilitating classes. The credit union has a group of financial advocates who teach classes on a regular basis. We are in the process of developing a group of community volunteers to facilitate the classes as well. Innovative Changes recently provided comprehensive training to volunteers and staff.
Thanks Mitzi, we are thrilled to have Maps Credit Union as a partner in Marion and Polk Counties!
Continue reading >
A Call for Stories!
Have you received the Oregon Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?
We are looking for people to share their stories of how the Oregon EITC has benefited them. The Oregon EITC is a tax credit for low to moderate income working families. Oregon's tax structure makes it so that low income families are hit the hardest. EITC is a way of alleviating some of this regressive taxation, however the Oregon EITC legislation is about to sunset in the end of 2013. Over 220,000 households in Oregon benefit from EITC and it's important that the legislature hear from these people to understand why it's so important to renew it. If you have utilized the Oregon EITC please share you story with us! You can talk to us about it over the phone or in person, we can video you talking about it, or you can even decide to take a trip to Salem to speak directly to your legislators!
Have you been treated unfairly by debt collectors?
Have they been rude to you over the phone? Refused to stop calling you, remove something from your credit report or accept a payment? Were you not served for a judgement when you should have been? Let us know! We have heard many of your stories, and would like to begin documenting them. We will join our partners at Economic Fairness Oregon in 2013 to advocate for a fairer debt collection system in Oregon. Tell us about your stories over the phone, in person or on video and together we can hold debt collectors accountable for their actions.
If you are willing to share your story on EITC and/or debt collection please give us a call at 503-249-5205 or email Talia: firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Financial Education Galore:
Start the New Year off right with some financial household resiliency classes! Our January classes are full, but it's never too early to sign up for our classes in March! Also, tax time starts in less than 2 weeks- can you believe it? Learn how you can "Make the Most of Tax Time" at one of our upcoming seminars at a library near you!
Upcoming Financial Household Resiliency (FHR) Workshops:
January Financial Household Resiliency Series
Tuesday, March 5th, 5:30-7:30 pm: Making Ends Meet
Tuesday, March 12th, 5:30-7:30 pm: Budgeting and Saving
Tuesday, March 19th 5:30-7:30 pm: Hands-On Banking
Tuesday, March 26th 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 $15 for all four classes. Fee waivers are available for those who qualify. To Register: visit our website or call or email Misha at (503)-249-5205/ email@example.com.
Making the Most of Tax Time
Friday, January 11th from 1pm - 2pm at the NW Library
Saturday, February 23rd, 2pm - 3pm at the Belmont Library
Tax time brings a window of opportunity. With the added boost to your budget from a tax return you can start paying off some debts that you've been worrying about, check off items from your wish list, or set up a savings account for your child's college education....the possibilities are endless! However, it's important to remember, even with this extra money, planning is key to using it effectively. We will cover topics such as the mechanics of getting a tax return, how to wisely budget and save your tax return, Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs), Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs) and more!
These classes are free and no registration is required.
|Give yourself the gift of education in 2013: Enroll in the IC$ Education IDA Today!
The IC$ IDA program offers a 3:1 match for those saving to attend an institution of higher education. Savers must put at least $25 into an account every month, complete financial education requirements and plan to go back to school or already be attending school. Savers can save for themselves or a loved one.
If you are interested in the IDA program, or know someone who may be interested,come to our next orientation which will be:
- Thursday, January 24th, 5:30-6:30 pm at our office in Suite 2010 of the Lloyd Center.
To Register: visit our website or call or email Misha at (503)-249-5205/ firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the IDA program visit our website.
Referring Partner Orientation
Would you like to become a partner of Innovative Changes? Interested in refering clients for our loans, financial education and individual coaching sessions? Want to learn more about our programs? Attend our Referring Partner Orientation webinar.
The webinar orientation will take place on Wednesday, February 20th from 10:30 am -11:30am. If you or your coworkers are interested in participating please register here.
This orientation is required for anyone who would like to refer clients for Innovative Changes (IC$) 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.
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 email@example.com to set up your monthly giving program.
Thank you for your support!
As of 1/9/13
465, averaging $469.13 for a total of $218,293.20
Revolved amount: $158,011
Repaid loans: 235
Financial education clients: