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Collaboration between public, private and philanthropic organizations will help families develop skills and access resources to become financially stable and build savings and assets Lewiston – The John T. Gorman Foundation has awarded $750,000 over three years to the Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community to help more than 1,000 low-income residents and families across Maine build savings, develop assets and attain financial stability. People who are interested in receiving services can learn more here. John T. Gorman Foundation Awards $750,000 to Expand and Strengthen Successful Statewide Program to Help Hard-working Maine Families Achieve Financial Stability
The award was announced October 8, 2014 at a press conference at the University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn College, at the start of a convening of the state’s 10 CA$H Coalitions.
In addition to Women, Work and Community and the John T. Gorman Foundation, partners in the new initiative, called CA$H ME, also include statewide and regional CA$H Maine Coalitions.
The CA$H ME Initiative will advance the work of the CA$H Coalitions across the state, which bring together partners to help guide low-income families toward ways to save money, take advantage of income tax refunds, use matched savings programs, such as Family Development Accounts and college savings plans, and participate in financial literacy classes.
“Even though most people are working harder than ever, far too many parents with low-incomes still encounter serious obstacles that prevent them from saving for the future,” said Tony Cipollone, President and CEO of the John T. Gorman Foundation. “We believe that helping parents provide and care for their families is crucial to our state’s success.”
The financial position of Maine residents is more precarious than people in many neighboring states, as well as in the nation. Per capita income in Maine is the lowest in New England, and nearly 15 percent of Maine households worry about food security. More than half of Maine consumers have poor credit, and nearly half have little to no liquid assets – cash they can tap into in the event of an emergency.
“Asset-building is very beneficial for families,” said Dottie Perham-Whittier, Co-Chair for the Lewiston-Auburn CA$H Coalition/Lewiston’s Community Relations Coordinator. “CA$H stands for ‘Creating Assets, Savings and Hope,’ and that’s exactly what learning how to effectively manage one’s money does. Understanding how to make the best use of one’s money is a positive step forward towards setting achievable goals, planning for the future, and enhancing self-sufficiency.”
CA$H sites help families improve their financial status. One way the sites work is by helping families take advantage of such tax benefits as the Earned Income Tax Credit – an income tax refund that has been shown to be an effective tool in reducing childhood poverty. Trained tax preparers and counselors advise families how to save and invest their money, setting up a nest egg that can be used to weather a life crisis and save for short and long-term financial goals such as postsecondary education, business ownership, and home ownership.
“This partnership and grant award from the John T. Gorman Foundation will not only help the individuals and families who participate in CA$H programs today,” said Janet Smith, CA$H Maine
Financial Capability and Asset Building Coordinator at Women, Work, and Community. “This investment will ensure that those families are empowered with the financial capability needed to climb up the economic ladder over time. That will benefit their children and their children’s children. Generations down the line will be better off.”
That is certainly true in the case of New Sharon’s Amy Scholl, a graduate of Women, Work, and Community and a beneficiary of asset-building help from the Western Maine CA$H site. Scholl graduated from college with a young baby and a mountain of debt.
“It felt like I would never be free from the financial situation I had gotten myself into, I was at rock bottom,” Scholl said.
Today, with help, Scholl is free of almost all debt. She is paying for graduate school at the University of New England, using money she saved in a Family Development Account. After graduating, she plans to buy her own home.
“While my income may not have changed significantly, I now know how to wisely spend,” Scholl said. “And I also know how to wisely save.”
The John T. Gorman Foundation advances and invests in innovative ideas and opportunities that improve the lives of Maine’s most vulnerable people. The independent, statewide Foundation focuses on four key areas: Improving educational achievement for children, promoting successful transitions to adulthood for vulnerable older youth, helping struggling parents to support their families and enabling low-income seniors to remain in their homes as long as possible. The Foundation’s work is guided by data, evaluation, national best practices and lessons from the initiatives in which we invest. We also seek to inform and influence practice and policy on issues affecting disadvantaged children, youth, families and seniors.
CA$H Maine is a collaboration of ten statewide coalitions, composed of 50 non- and for-profit partners, working together to help low- and moderate-income Mainers make the most of their money. CA$H
Maine offers free tax preparation to qualified filers during the tax season, and connects residents to financial education resources, including money management and homebuying workshops, Family Development Accounts (FDAs) and credit counseling.
Women, Work and Community, University of Maine at Augusta, is the only statewide organization offering skills development and support in the areas of career planning, entrepreneurship and financial management. For Mainers in both life and career transitions, it provides an empowering environment for participants to define and achieve their goals.
Visit any CA$H Maine tax site to have your state and federal income taxes prepared and filed for free by IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers. CA$H offers no-cost tax preparation, and connects you to free and low-cost resources that can save you money, including information about how to fund higher education for you or your children.
Option 1: File in person. Prepared and e-filed free by an IRS-certified volunteer tax preparer. Find a coalition near you and schedule an appointment, or call 2-1-1 to find a location near you. Thank you for helping others know about our events: CA$H Maine 2014 Flier (English) and translated fliers: Acholi; Arabic; Farsi; French; Mandarin; Portuguese; Russian; Somali; Spanish; and Vietnamese. ADA and interpreter accommodations available upon request.
Be sure to get connected to higher education grants at our events: ask for your Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) voucher. For more information, visit Finance Authority of Maine.
Option 2: File online. Go to www.myfreetaxes.com/maine. Income qualification: 2013 household income less than $58,000. Available in all states. Requires an active email address.
Income Tax Tip: Apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit and receive up to $6,044. Public benefit programs do not count this your tax refund as income for one year.
Free tax preparation is provided by members and volunteers of CA$H Maine, a collaboration of ten statewide coalitions, comprised of 50 non- and for-profit partners, working together to help low- and moderate-income Mainers make the most of their money. CA$H Maine offers free tax preparation by IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers to qualified filers, and connects residents to financial education resources, including information about funding higher education for children and their families. In 2013, CA$H Maine helped more than 4,610 Maine residents save $806,750 in filing fees and claim $2.4 million in Earned Income Tax Credits while getting $6.9 million back in federal income tax refunds.
Get connected to higher education resources for you and your children at any CA$H Maine tax site. Ask for your voucher at any of our events. Can’t make it? Find out more from the Finance Authority of Maine.
Children with a college savings account in their name are shown to be seven times more likely to attend and complete college than those without. This year, with the support of John T. Gorman Foundation and Harold Alfond Foundation, CA$H Maine will expand its ability to help more Maine families reach educational and long-term financial stability goals.
A 2013 Washington University study shows that a college savings plan can encourage students to enroll and graduate from college. The report notes that promoting even a small amount of college savings, can make a huge difference in a child’s likelihood to attend college. Evidence shows that “children with $1 to $499 designated for school are 2.5 times more likely to enroll in and graduate from college than children with no account.”
If you can’t make it to a CA$H Maine tax site, you can still file your taxes for free. Visit www.myfreetaxes.com/maine and file your federal and state income taxes for free. Income qualification: 2013 household income less than $58,000. If you have questions while filing your taxes, call 1-855-MY-TX-HELP.