Silicon Valley One - Fall 2007 - (Page 6)
launch Assets for All helps those in need build a life Back From the Brink strategy that focuses on building—and keeping— assets. IDAs are matched savings accounts coupled with ongoing, comprehensive financial education. They are designed to help low-income and low-wealth families accumulate money for investments, such as buying a home, starting a business, securing an education or establishing a retirement account. Program participants must have a household income below 60 percent of the area’s median income. For a family of four in San Mateo County, this is just under $40,000. The participants must complete at least 20 hours of financial education and save a minimum of $20 every month for two to three years, earning $2 in matching funds for each $1 saved. They invest the funds—a maximum of $6,000, including the match—at the end of the program in a home, education, a small business or retirement savings. L enin, a postal worker, is starting a music production business that he hopes will provide steady support for his four children. Paulette went from being a homeless single mother of four to owning a home. And Serena, a single mother, has earned a bachelor’s degree. A business, a home, an education. For workers struggling to make ends meet in the pricey Bay Area, such acquisitions are a path to financial security. “Families move out of poverty by acquiring assets,” says Eric Weaver, executive director and founder of Lenders for Community Development, a nonprofit financial institution that invests in low-income people and communities in San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Francisco and Alameda counties. An integral part of this movement toward economic independence is the Assets for All Alliance Individual Development Account program. This was launched in 1999 by the Center for Venture Philanthropy at Peninsula Community Foundation (a parent of Silicon Valley Community Foundation) and designed to help lowincome families learn financial management skills and build assets that would help them permanently improve their economic situation. Today, the program has enrolled 2,000 clients and is a national model for using matched savings accounts to help low-income families build financial stability. At the core of the Assets for All initiative are Individual Development Accounts, or IDAs, a creative antipoverty “We can sleep at night knowing we have a roof over our heads.” For Paulette Dellanini, who started out homeless and now has a home and money set aside for an extra month’s mortgage payment, disciplined savings led to a new sense of security: “We can sleep at night, “ she says, “knowing we have a roof over our heads and food in the refrigerator.” The results of the IDA program show that not only can people like Dellanini save, but they can retain their assets after the program is over. “Being able to take control of and build a future is a luxury for many low-income workers,” says Ellen Dumesnil, division director for economic development services for Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, which provided recruiting and case management for the program. And saving the money gave clients “a greater sense of belonging, a greater sense of being a real equal partner in the community.” one 6 one innovation through philanthropy www.siliconvalleycf.org mike kemp/JupiTer images
If you would like to try to load the digital publication without using Flash Player detection, please click here.