News & Press: Credit Union News

St. Paul’s Prepare + Prosper supports low-income individuals with financial coaching

Monday, August 8, 2016  
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Affinity Plus Foundation - ST. PAUL, Minn. (Aug. 08, 2016) - Prepare + Prosper helps Minnesotans create pathways out of poverty, and the best way to do that is a combination of education, resources and support, say organizers.

“Our participants learn how to increase income, build assets and become financially secure,” said Amelia Colwell Reedy, Prepare + Prosper development manager. “And as they learn, we advocate for policy changes that break down barriers to financial success.”

Because of Prepare + Prosper’s successful work and advocacy, the Affinity Plus Foundation awarded the St. Paul, Minn.-based organization a $10,000 Community Grant in mid-2016.

Amy Hanson, Affinity Plus Foundation executive director, said the Community Grant is part of the foundation’s initiative to support financial-literacy efforts across Minnesota through partner programs focused on personal finance. 

The foundation also awards Cultivator Grants to support the efforts of Minnesota educators by funding financial-education materials and supplies.

“We believe offering a robust grant program to support organizations, programs and individual teachers will have the greatest impact in positive financial awareness and practice,” Hanson said. “This leads to greater individual financial capability and overall financial health for our communities.”

MONEY MENTORS AND VOLUNTEERS
Along with the 2016 grant, Hanson said the Affinity Plus Foundation further supports Prepare + Prosper by coordinating Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union employees to serve as volunteers and mentors.

Associate Accountant Tunde Sulaimon provides no-cost tax preparation for participants. Stephanie Musgrove, a business development specialist, volunteers as a financial coach.

“I’ve walked into a coaching session with a participant who felt stressed and overwhelmed,” Musgrove said. “But through our conversation she found clarity about her financial situation and was motivated to take appropriate actions to move forward.”

RESULTS – GREATER FOCUS ON BUDGETING, TIMELY BILL PAYING
Colwell Reedy said more than 235 individuals have participated in various Prepare + Prosper participants programs. Eighty recently completed a series of financial-coaching sessions.

  • Coaches surveyed the group and found:
  • 89 percent had developed a personal budget or spending plan.
  • 84 percent had begun paying bills on a regular basis, up from 59 percent at the start of the program.
  • 59 percent increased their confidence in their ability to come up with $500 to cover an emergency.
  • 50 percent increased the frequency in which they save.

During the 2016 tax season, volunteer tax preparers like Sulaimon helped more than 1,200 customers save nearly $1.92 million in taxes.

In those surveys, participants described the impact of the programs and services. Their comments included:

  • “You know that feeling when you’re under water and no matter what direction you go, there’s water? A financial coach pulls you out of water and sets you on dry land.”
  • “I was able to look at my expenses, set priorities and pay off one credit card. I developed a plan to pay off my student loan. I cut my transportation expenses by 45 percent.”


FOR MORE INFORMATION
To learn more about Prepare + Prosper, call (651) 287-0187 or e-mail contact@prepareandprosper.org. Its website is www.prepareandprosper.org.

For more information about, or to contribute to, the Affinity Plus Foundation, call (844) 493-4483 or e-mail info@affinityplusfoundation.org. Its website is affinityplusfoundation.org

Photo: Participants in Prepare + Prosper’s Money Mentors program show off their certificates after completing the program. Prepare + Prosper helps Minnesotans create pathways out of poverty through a combination of education, resources and support. Because of Prepare + Prosper’s work and advocacy, the Affinity Plus Foundation awarded the St. Paul, Minn., organization a $10,000 Community Grant in mid-2016.

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, financial cooperative that puts people first above profits. Members of Affinity Plus receive maximum value through competitive rates, minimal fees, and unique, member-centric products and programs. Affinity Plus has 28 branches located throughout the state. With over $1.8 billion in assets and with $3.5 billion in assets under management, Affinity Plus is based in St. Paul and is owned by more than 180,000 members. Additional information is available at www.affinityplus.org or by calling (800) 322-7228.


Minnesota Credit Union Network
555 Wabasha Street N, Suite 200
St. Paul, MN 55102

(651) 288-5170
(800) 477-1034