Giving a hand up, not a hand out
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a home, starting a business or getting a post-secondary education, you know how financially challenging it can be to achieve your dreams.
That’s why the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) is so passionate about helping women, low-income individuals, and minorities take the first step toward achieving their goals through the Make Your Money Talk matched savings program. People like NaQuanna Edwards, who relied on the organization to help her buy a home. “[It] has provided me with the opportunity to save and reach my goal of becoming a first-time homebuyer,” she explains, adding, “it feels great to be able to establish a foundation for my children.”
Among the comprehensive financial education and assistance provided by WWBIC are IDAs (Individual Development Accounts) and PROMISE grants (See details below). These matched savings account grant programs are funded in part by the federal government and both are available to qualified clients of WWBIC.
BMO Harris has been WWBIC’s financial institution partner for 17 years, helping participants open IDAs. Through the program, qualified participants can receive up to $8 for every $1 they save for college tuition, job training, starting or growing a business, or buying a first home.
Amada Morales is one particular individual who was able to make use of the IDA account to help her reach her goals of continuing her education. After successfully graduating from the WWBIC program Make Your Money Talk financial awareness program in May of 2012, Amada opened up her IDA account with the dream of taking eight natural science courses that will help her qualify for entry into the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, Cuba and ultimately, change her own cycle of poverty. “I really want to represent the underprivileged in the field of medicine,” she says.
Kevin Smith, financial capability director with WWBIC, says there are many people like Amada who are “looking to make their dreams a reality, [and] who just need a little help. We give them tools and resources to put those dreams within their reach.”
With an emphasis on both personal and business finances, WWBIC offers resources including programs to help people increase their assets, their income and their credit score. As one client so perfectly put it, “WWBIC not only gave me the funds, it also gave me something else, which is confidence.”
Overview of Accounts
Individual Development Account (IDA)
An IDA grant enables low-income families to save, build assets and enter the financial mainstream, by rewarding the monthly savings of working families. WWBIC's program allows individuals to save for four reasons:
- Purchasing a first home
- Paying for post-secondary education (college)
- Starting or expanding a small business
- Saving for a dependent’s college education
Because IDAs requires community sponsors to also contribute funds toward the matching program, they’re currently only available to residents of WWBIC’s current partner, the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, and to clients who meet the criteria of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, also an IDA funder. Eligible IDA accountholders can save a maximum of $500, which can be matched up to $8 for $1 saved. When they close their account, every $1 they save is matched with $2.
Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE)
This five-year national demonstration project helps kids ages 14–to-16, who receive SSI assistance from the federal government, improve the quality of their lives and that of their families in the areas of education and job training, and ultimately decrease their reliance on SSI. Wisconsin Promise participants work with a WWBIC financial coach and their PROMISE counselor to determine their saving goal, and can save up to $1,000 in this special account opened using a $25 incentive provided by WWBIC. Each dollar saved is matched with $1 at the time of withdrawal. “This incentive gives people who are motivated to better their lives a hand up, instead of a hand out,” says Smith.
Banking products and services are subject to bank and credit approval. BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC.