Graduates Of Asset Building Programs Honored

In June dozens of participants in the Asset Building programs at Heartland Human Care Services (HHCS) were recognized for their achievements by program mentors and Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

“Today we are celebrating success,” Erika Singleton, a member of the HHCS Asset Building Team, said. “The milestones achieved, the goals accomplished, and every step taken toward success.”

According the CFED’s Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, 1 in 4 families experience asset poverty, meaning they do not have enough assets or savings to meet basic needs for a period of 3 months in the event of unexpected occurrences like job loss or a medical emergency. For families of color, almost 1 in 2 families are experiencing asset poverty.

The programs offered by HHCS are geared at improving the financial security of families through financial education and savings. Mario Pantoja, Director of Consumer Services at IDFPR, noted that many of the complaints and cases the department sees could have been prevented through better consumer education.

Since 2006 the programs have educated over 9,000 people in Chicago. Collectively participants have saved $202,646 of their own money and an additional $117,944 in matching funds. Additionally, nearly 291 new bank accounts have been opened as a result of the programs.

“Research shows that families with assets tend to be more productive at work and earn more, save more, care for their property, are involved in their communities, and plan for education and retirement,” Singleton said.

Participants in seven Asset Building programs were honored, including: Family Self-Sufficiency, IDEA, Meet Your Match, One Million Degrees, GEAR UP, Supportive Services for Veteran Families, and Wealth and Wellness Financial Education.

For more information on the programs visit http://www.heartlandalliance.org/assetbuilding/

Family Self-Sufficiency: is a 5-year program for residents in the public housing or HCV program of Chicago Housing Authority. Participants work with an Asset Development Coordinator to meet goals such as financial education, career development, and savings. Whenever the household experiences a rent increase as a result of increased wages, the family can accrue escrow deposits for each month of increased rent. Upon completion of their goals, the family receives the money accrued in escrow.

Wealth and Wellness: Participants complete 10 hours of financial education by attending a minimum of 5 workshops that are two hours each and certified by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations. This financial literacy program includes instruction on budgeting, understanding credit, saving, and debt reduction.

Meet Your Match: is a matched savings program for residents living in supportive and subsidized housing. Participants complete 10 hours of the Wealth and Wellness financial education, meet for consultation with an Asset Development Coordinator, and have the opportunity to earn matched savings. For Matched Savings, participants make regular deposits into an account every month for 6-12 months. After saving for at least 6 months, participants receive a 2:1 match for every dollar saved, up to $200.

IDEA: is a matched savings program for working female heads-of-household. Like the Meet Your Match program, participants complete financial education, meet with their Asset Development Coordinator, and complete matched savings.

One Million Degrees: is a scholarship program providing low-income, highly motivated students the opportunity to pursue degrees in diverse fields including healthcare, education, medical technology, and computer sciences at community colleges. HHCS provides financial education to these scholars one Saturday per month.

GEAR UP: is a Department of Education partnership with Northeastern University’s Chicago Teachers Center and CPS. GEAR UP works with cohorts of students and parents from 7th grade to Seniors in high school to increase college success. GEAR UP partners with HHCS to provide the Wealth and Wellness education for parents at targeted schools such as Robeson High School, Spry Community Links High School, Madero Middle School, and Farragut Career Academy.

Supportive Services for Veteran Families: provides individual financial coaching and career development services to formerly homeless Veterans. HHCS has helped over 70 Veterans improve their credit report and score and obtain better employment.

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