Poverty persists in west central Minnesota despite the intense efforts of many organizations. That's why West Central Initiative and partner organizations have embraced the FES philosophy and have honed them to fit the needs of the region. The three FES workgroups focus on:
Asset building — strategies to help families build wealth and save for the future. Projects include earned income tax credit
Early childhood/childcare — resources to ensure that all young children get a good start in life with quality early care and education; and
Jobs, careers and employability — the skills and education necessary to get good jobs and build careers.
In addition to bringing people and communities together to better address working poverty, WCI awards funding that has been used to expand proven strategies and try out new innovative approaches to lifting people out of poverty.
- Since 2007, WCI has distributed $494,000 in FES funds; leveraging over double that amount (one million dollars) in cash match.
- Roughly 5,400 people in west central Minnesota have received life-changing programming, such as financial literacy education, that will have a long-lasting impact on their financial well-being.
- Five west central Minnesota communities – Callaway, Evansville, Frazee, Hoffman and Starbuck – have received FES funding from WCI to continue their citizen-led efforts to decrease poverty. The money has been used for a variety of strategies including a business incubator, community gardens and farmers markets, increasing the quality of child care and youth service learning activities.
EITC outreach and financial fitness education are nationally-recommended strategies for helping low income working families develop their assets. WCI's support to organizations that implement these strategies has yielded impressive results.
- During 2010, FES partners provided 40 sessions of financial fitness training with over 249 households participating. The team's 2011 goal is to increase that number by 5 %, providing training to over 260 households.
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) filings in west central Minnesota have increased substantially with WCI support for outreach and free tax preparation services. EITC dollars coming into the region reached a high of nearly 25 MILLION for tax year 2007 - the most recent year for which data is available. Research shows that most of this money is spent locally for major purchase or to pay bills.
FES grants include:
Family Economic Success Local Impact Grants
Grants to impact one of four family economic success goals at a local level
Family Economic Success Regionwide Grants
Grants to impact one of four family economic success goals at a regionwide level. (all applications must be developed in collaboration with one of the FES workgroups)
For more information,
contact Wendy Merrick, program director, at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or 800 735-2239.