Right now, 30% of local households are not able to meet their basic needs or plan for the future. The outlook is even worse for emancipating foster youth.
One major reason for this is people lack access to proper financial management tools and financial education. From bank services to budgeting to savings and debt management, exposure to basic financial information is the foundation for long-term financial stability.
What would you do if you knew there was a proven solution that lifts millions of children and working families out of poverty each year… a tool that, at the same time, also improves child health and academic achievement, enables financial stability for hard-working families, and pumps billions of dollars back into local communities around the country?
You’d probably want to talk about it. You’d probably want as many of your friends, family and community to know about this amazing resource.
That’s exactly why United Way, our community partners, and thousands of volunteers each year take action to connect millions of people to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In fact, just last tax season, Community Link Capital Region through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, helped connect 3,500 local people to $4,000,000 in tax refunds – money coming right back into our community. And that’s why we advocate to strengthen and expand the EITC for working families and individuals.
Simply put, the Earned Income Tax Credit helps lower-wage working families keep more of what they earn. Research finds that the EITC encourages work, reduces poverty and leads to long-term gains in child health and academic success. Together with the Child Tax Credit (CTC), another essential credit that helps offset the cost of raising children, the credits lifted more than 9 million people – 5 million of them children — out of poverty in 2013. The credits also help 22 million lower-income Americans have further financial stability.
Each year, millions of people pay, on average, more than $200 to prepare and file their tax return, because they didn’t know there was a free option. MyFreeTaxes.com provides 100 percent free online federal and state tax preparation and filing assistance to employees with household incomes of $60,000 or less.
When we strengthen the economic future of one family, we strengthen the economy for the whole community. To do this, United Way is working to ensure 10% more households in our region will be financially stable and self-sufficient.
Our $EN$E-ABILITY project works with low to moderate-income households and foster youth to help them manage finances and increase savings. We are also helping local qualified families and individuals file their taxes online for free while bringing crucial EITC (earned income tax credit) dollars back into our local community.
So far, 88% of adult participants are demonstrating better financial skills and now have savings accounts.
90% of foster youth participants are earning credits toward matched savings accounts.
United Way is also leading the Assets & Opportunity Network, mobilizing a group of nonprofits, companies and volunteers to look at financial stability data in our community and work on key tasks to increase the number of individuals who are financially thriving.
Together we can change the odds and improve lives.
Untied Way’s certified nonprofit funded partners are the integral forces creating change and bringing to life our vision of stronger and more compassionate communities through our financial stability initiatives.
United Way’s $en$e-Ability project offers important tools and coaching to low-moderate income households and foster youth to create money management plans. With a plan in place, families can have a stable home and plan for the future.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program is national and offers free help to people who make a limited income and need help preparing their tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic tax return preparation with electronic filing. Volunteers inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations.
Locally, United Way California Capital Region and our partners offer myfreetaxes.comto help local residents save money during tax season. In 2014, we had 490 tax returns completed saving our community thousands of dollars in tax preparation fees.
Marina learned the hard way that the old saying is true: Sometimes you can’t go home. Marina’s childhood was marked by addiction – her parents’ addiction and her own. Fortunately, her probation officer saw her perseverance and determination and sent her to Koinonia Homes for Teens.
As a foster youth at Koinonia, Marina turned her life around, due in part to Koinonia’s participation in United Way’s financial stability initiative, which includes our $en$e-Ability project that helps foster youth become financially literate and build savings accounts for when they move out on their own.