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Getting to know Prepare + Prosper

Tracy Fischman | December 2019/January 2020 Footnote

Editor's note: Updated November 30, 2019

Founded in 1971 by a group of justice-minded accountants, Prepare + Prosper is a nonprofit that works with people to build financial well-being and solve for financial inclusion. Harnessing the power of volunteers and partnerships, we provide free tax preparation and financial services, products and coaching, and work to change systems to create economic opportunity for everyone.

To date, with the help of 600-plus volunteers, 12,000-plus people filed their taxes for free and received $22 million-plus in refunds; 125-plus people met their goals through our financial coaching program; more people connected to our FAIR banking solution for a total of 151 people in 262 products designed to help them ultimately build wealth, not strip it; and we partnered to expand the Minnesota Working Family Credit (our state’s Earned Income Tax Credit) and increase funding for free tax prep programs across the state.

The need for volunteers goes beyond tax season

Prepare + Prosper engages volunteers in year-round opportunities to support our work. We provide free tax and financial services throughout the year, and thus need volunteer tax preparers, tax reviewers, financial advocates and intake specialists for our summer and fall clinics. Additionally, our financial coaches volunteer throughout the year for our Money Mentors financial coaching program. Please visit our website at www.prepareandprosper.org to learn more about each role and apply for a position that’s of interest to you. Also, on our website, you can sign up for our e-news to learn about other ways to join us, like invitations to events, opportunities to give and calls for advocacy around policies that affect economic opportunity.

Financial Access in Reach (FAIR): An exciting, new initiative

In Minnesota, there are approximately 328,000 households (according to the FDIC) that are financially underserved — or underbanked — meaning they rely partly or wholly on alternative financial services like check cashers, money orders or payday lenders. It’s estimated that someone who is financially underserved will spend anywhere from $1,200 to $2,400 a year on fees and interest. Nationally, that rolls up to $173 billion, according to the Financial Health Network. FAIR is a scalable, consumer-driven solution to solving for this financial inclusion gap.

The FAIR Financial Solution — which consists of a checking, saving, and credit builder account — is designed by and for financially underserved individuals. FAIR bundles these financial products, couples them with digital financial coaching and offers them through nontraditional channels in places where people work, worship and receive services, thus solving for lack of trust in or access to financial institutions. FAIR is a cross-sector partnership and the products are backed by Sunrise Banks, N.A., Member FDIC.

Standing behind our mission statement of changing systems

Our policies, structures and financial marketplace need to work better for everyone striving for financial well-being. We aim to influence these systems by strengthening policy, advocating and partnering across sectors to create a more equitable financial system for everyone. In our policy and advocacy efforts, we collaborate with our customers, volunteers, staff and partner organizations to push for change that support low- to moderate-income individuals in the areas of tax credits, asset-building and consumer protection. Additionally, through FAIR, we are demonstrating that fairly designed products for those with low and volatile incomes can help people build financial health and wealth, and also be a sustainable business practice for financial institutions. With a goal to scale FAIR statewide and nationally, we strive to contribute to a shift in the financial marketplace.

Stay in touch with us

There are many ways to connect with us. You can subscribe to our monthly e-news on our website to receive news, invitations, and the latest from our e-magazine, Spark. You can also follow us on social media. Additionally, we invite you to reach out directly to learn more.

For volunteer opportunities, please contact Nicole Laumer at nicole@prepareandprosper.com or 651-262-2163.

Tracy Fischman is the executive director of Prepare + Prosper.

Connect with Prepare + Prosper
www.prepareandprosper.org
www.fairfinancial.org
Facebook: @prepareandprosper
Twitter: @prepareprosper
Instagram: @prepareandprosper
LinkedIn: @prepareandprosper