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NerdWallet’s Top 5 Nonprofits Serving the Economically Disadvantaged

July 23, 2012
Personal Finance
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Here at NerdWallet we are all about helping you manage your finances and save some cash. Unfortunately, we know that financial burdens and worries can be crippling obstacles. For some, their priorities are not which deposit accounts have interest rates that beat inflation, but rather where their next paycheck might come from. We get that, and we want to help out by recognizing some truly amazing and innovative nonprofits that are dedicated to helping out our economically disadvantaged peers. NerdWallet thinks these guys rock, and we hope you do too.

i.c.stars: Cultivating tech careers for nerds to reach their full potential

Have you ever thought there was a connection between a technology career and community leadership? Well, i.c.stars does. This innovative nonprofit helps individuals who face socioeconomic barriers to reach their career potential by offering a previously unseen path into the field of information technology. In 2000, i.c.stars launched their workforce development program to serve low-income students in the Chicago-area. The original founders, Sandee and Leslie, found that many of their regular students had the ability to solve critical problems, but lacked the opportunities to tap into such potential, especially in an IT-based setting. They decided to develop a way to keep this potential from being lost due to economic barriers. The program has received dozens of corporate sponsorships and partnerships over the years and uses this support to put the students of i.c.stars through their 12-week curriculum. This prepares them for a career in IT and business, and to have the capabilities and motivation to give back to their communities. Their success is undeniable, as graduates of the program have a 95% placement rate and earn an average of more than triple what the average income was before students went through i.c.stars. Keeping with the goals of i.c.stars, the vast majority of these individuals also remain active in their communities and pass help along to others. i.c.stars earns a spot on our list as they cultivate generations of tech-nerds-to-come by serving disadvantaged individuals and helping them reach their full potential.


Giving Children Hope: Serving children in the cycle of poverty

Giving Children Hope, founded in 1993, got us interested in them from their many different programs serving children in low-income communities in the United States and around the world. With five major programs in the US and five international, these guys mean business. They work with low-income individuals to promote sustainability and economic independence, while also providing supplies and resources to free clinics, hospitals, and orphanages. Giving Children Hope meets these service needs by partnering primarily with grassroots organizations that serve single communities, and then working with those groups to administer aid to the people locked into a cycle of poverty. One of their domestic programs, the Buena Park Community Clinic, provides a mobile medical clinic and a full clinic to serve the economically disadvantaged in Buena Park California. By tackling issues that hold people in cycles of poverty in a holistic way, Giving Children Hope is allowing individuals to become self-sustaining and transform their communities.


Community Legal Services: Law nerds helping those in need

Built on a slogan of “equal access to justice for all,” Community Legal Services (CLS) has been serving low-income communities in Arizona since 1952. This one law firm operates a far-reaching legal aid program that provides legal-services to its clients in civil areas of law, as well as working on larger community and state issues that will impact those living in poverty. Many low-income individuals do not have the resources to obtain legal aid, even when they are often the members of society for which legal restitution is most important. CLS works heavily with family law, economic and employment issues, housing laws, and public benefits cases, providing its clients with either advice or direct representation. Much of their work is also directed at issues of income and self-sufficiency. CLS works with individuals on wage claims, insurance issues, compensation claims, as well as a variety of consumer protection cases including credit access and bankruptcy. Clients of the CLS can even receive advice about income tax, employer discrimination, and workers protection laws. With offices in 5 different counties of Arizona, this nonprofit law firm is dedicatedly serving its people and putting its nerds to work. CLS also partners with the Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) which coordinates additional civil legal assistance from private attorneys that donate their own time and expertise. NerdWallet recognizes their efforts and thanks these sharp legal minds for helping out.


Community of Hope DC: Educating parents and children

Founded in 1980, Community of Hope provides holistic support and stability to low-income and homeless adults and children. They provide health care, housing, counseling, and assistance with job placements for adults and education for children. Under their operation is a full health clinic, both temporary and permanent housing for the homeless, job placement services, and tutoring and mentoring services for affected children. Their work is noble and their efforts are all encompassing. Community of Hope takes on the entire District of Columbia area, and serves not only the parents but also the children of these underserved and disadvantaged families. Through the housing programs that they offer, Community of Hope provides life-skills classes that teach members about smart budgeting, accessing community resources, and finding sustainable work to become financially literate and independent. Their commitment to all effected members facing economic struggles and homelessness, as well as their focus on financial education to help fix the cycle of poverty, is what put Community of Hope on our radar and we hope they get the support they need to continue their good work.


Operation Warm: Helping little nerds bundle up

Many nonprofits take in clothes donations and secondhand items to offer the economically disadvantaged. Operation Warm takes a different, more specific and specialized approach to this concept. Though it may not be in the forefront of our thoughts in these warm summer months, all around the country children do not have adequate clothing for the colder seasons. This creates a very serious health issue, but also a social problem of underserved kids lacking confidence and self-worth. Operation Warm combats both of these by providing quality new winder coats for children that will protect them and give them a sense of pride. Since their founding in 1998, Operation Warm as given out an amazing 1 million coats to children living in poverty. They are able to serve so many by partnering with a wide range of corporations for funding, community organizations for distribution, and importantly with manufacturers to get the quality coats at the right standard for the kids who need them. They are also partnered with the Coats for Kids Foundation which helps them to better provide in winter clothing in the greater Washington, DC area and around the country. NerdWallet knows that a kid needs to be healthy and happy to become the true kind of nerd our country needs, and we support Operation Warm for making that happen.