America Saves Week, which runs from February 25th to March 2nd this year, is one of the biggest (and most inclusive) financial literacy initiatives in the country. Government organizations, private employers, nonprofits, bloggers, schools and churches will devote this week to promote good saving habits to members of their respective communities. Each organization can participate in whatever way they choose, and the America Saves Week homepage has a fabulous “tool kit” to make it easier. Need flyers, logos, a PowerPoint presentation, or even pre-written Tweets? They’ve got you covered.
Helping people save: business as usual for the best nonprofits
How many organizations are participating in America Saves Week? Hundreds! Us too, as a matter of fact, and we noticed a lot of other great organizations on the guest list, especially financial literacy nonprofits. We thought we’d take time to highlight some of our favorites and spread the word about the great work they’re doing. In one way or another, they help Americans save every day. Read on for the full scoop.
Bank On California, part of the national Bank On initiative, works with local banks and credit unions to reduce barriers for low-income and unbanked / under-banked people. They encourage institutions to offer no- and low-cost starter and second chance checking accounts and free financial education programs. Bank on California works to help organize partnerships between government organizations, financial institutions and nonprofits to connect individuals to banks and credit unions and spread the word about the benefits of banking and making informed and affordable financial decisions. If you don’t live in California, click here to find your local Bank On chapter and learn more.
Based in New York City, Cents Ability offers free, basic finance classes to local high school students and young adults. Their curriculum, developed in conjunction with the National Endowment for Financial Education, involves seven 45-minute classes on important topics like goal setting, building credit, budgeting and investing. By partnering with other organizations like New York Cares and Wall Street Volunteers, Cents Ability has been able to reach an unprecedented number of students. All teachers are professionals who work for schools, law firms, banks and other nonprofits. If you’re a finance professional living in New York, consider signing up to volunteer. You can also donate money to help them build a new financial literacy learning center.
The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) is a financial education, research and advocacy organization, based in Washington, D.C., that works to improve the long-term financial quality of life for women. Their goal is to educate women of all ages about saving and retirement, investing, managing money, owning a home and more. They create their own publications, including a quarterly newsletter, and offer free tools and resources on their website. Through their National Education and Resource Center on Women and Retirement Planning, they partner with national and local organizations to reach women most at-risk for financial insecurity, with a special emphasis on older women, women of color, low- to moderate-income women and caregivers, and they host financial literacy workshops in communities across the country. We especially like the way they created such easy access to these learning materials. You can download materials for free from their website or purchase materials in bulk for a nominal fee. If you’re interested in more information, or would like to make a donation, click here.
Poverty is a complex problem that can’t be solved by one organization alone. Step Up Savannah plans to tackle it with everyone’s help. Originally a task force, Step Up Savannah is now composed of nearly 100 business, government and non-profit organizations working together to alleviate poverty in the city of Savannah, Georgia. Their solutions are just as diverse as their list of participants. Step Up Savannah’s affiliate organizations work to promote financial independence and healthy living through job training programs, financial literacy classes, affordable housing renovation resources, and affordable healthcare and childcare. They also work to make real information about poverty readily available, which includes their own research, Census data and other reports. Explore their website to learn more about their partner organizations, and click here to find out how you can get involved.
CFED is a national advocacy organization that works to promote policies and programs that help low- and moderate-income households achieve the American Dream: owning a home, pursuing higher education, starting a business and saving for the future. They were one of the first organizations to promote the Individual Development Account, a fund-matching account that rewards people for saving toward an asset-building goal, such as buying a house or making a business purchase. Right now, they’re also working to promote free tax preparation programs and affordable housing, too. Visit their website to learn more, and click here to read about ways to donate.
The CHANGE, Inc., Community Action Agency supports low-income people in West Virginia’s North Panhandle by encouraging service integration, resource consolidation and partnerships between local public service organizations. They also run their own counseling and service programs for youth and adults, and manage a community health center. If you’d like to help, they accept donations in the form of food, clothing, household goods, or money. You can also volunteer. Contact them directly for details.
Impact Community Action works to eradicate poverty in Columbus and Franklin counties, Ohio. Each client works with a case manager, who helps them take full advantage of the center’s services. Some programs help people work toward a simple goal, such as saving money on their energy bills. Other programs, like their computer literacy classes and workforce development initiative, promote long-term economic empowerment. Through outreach, advocacy, and even a mobile medical unit, they’re able to raise awareness of their services and provide real change for some of Ohio’s neediest residents. Click here to learn more about the ways you can support their efforts.
Jump$tart New Hampshire is a volunteer-run coalition of organizations committed to improving youth and college-student financial literacy. An affiliate of the national organization Jump$tart, they provide advocacy and training materials, facilitate discussions and conduct research to prepare youth for life-long financial stability. Their upcoming Forum on the Financial Literacy of NH Families and Workers brings together community leaders and national figures like Ted Beck, president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education, to discuss real solutions for improved financial literacy in schools and the workplace. To volunteer for one of their committees or download free financial literacy learning materials, visit their website.
As the name suggests, AHP promotes successful and affordable homeownership in the capital region of New York. Their mission is twofold: help renters save for their first home and make a smart purchase, and help current homeowners manage their property and save money. They host regular workshops and also organize a yearly housing fair. In addition to providing valuable information, they can also match clients with a bank, broker or grant program to help them afford down payments or make their homes more energy efficient. Contact them directly to learn more about individual programs or find out how you can help.
Many of Oregon’s farmworkers and low-income families don’t have access to safe or secure housing. CASA of Oregon is committed to fixing this problem for good. A certified community development financial institution, they provide funding for non-profits and public entities looking to build or renovate affordable housing communities. They also provide administrative oversight for Individual Development Accounts across the Northwest (Oregon and Washington), helping local institutions offer these accounts to the people who need them most. Contact them for more information.