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Empowering Residents Through New Programing

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In an effort to impart long-lasting financial security & success in our community, we recently introduced the improved College and Financial Empowerment Program (CaFe). Tiana Bonner, CaFe Director, is leading the change in the hopes that this new program will provide low-income families with the tools and knowledge they will need to manage finances, understand credit, and build sustainable savings. The emphasis on finance surrounds our goal of inspiring more confidence in our community around money matters.

Thanks to the addition of our newest team member, Financial Empowerment Coordinator Jeffrey (Jeff) Paddock, we’ll be able to expand this mission and provide individualized counseling to see these families transition to owning homes and being financially stable enough to go to school. In fact, we spoke to Paddock about his plans for the program, how they enhance our vision, and how our community will benefit from more financial literacy.

IBA: Nice to meet you, Jeff. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to get involved with IBA?

Jeff: I was born in Virginia, studied abroad in Spain, where I worked on becoming bilingual, and worked in Honduras after college with micro finance and lending. Most of my interest in IBA was based in its support for the Latin American community and I’m passionate about helping low income families with personal finance matters.

IBA: What sort of direction do you see IBA moving towards as the new Financial Empowerment Coordinator?

Jeff: Right now, IBA is great at preparation for the workforce, but I’m here to dig deeper into developing personal tools to make that happen. If you don’t have a savings account, it can hinder your professional progress. I’m hoping to expand IBA’s toolbox amidst financial and economic turbulence. The way I see it, there are three big problems to resolve. First, we have to make sure people understand credit scores and handling debt. Wages can be variable, paychecks don’t always arrive on time–I get it–but people end up taking out loans they can’t afford and wind up in even more trouble. Second, as I mentioned previously, is setting people up to save. Every cent counts! And third, I want to teach people how to leverage financial tools like accounts, loans, and investments, to get a better education. Good credit and smart banking habits can help you go to school.

IBA: What kind of opportunities will people be able to take advantage of in the next year?

Jeff: We’re planning on hosting informative workshops every month. We’ll also be offering group classes for financial help. In the long run, we’ll expand on those classes to eventually offer one to one counseling. The first part of this program has to do with engagement and creating a sound knowledge of the financial tools available to them.

How do you identify with IBA’s mission and how will our mission be presented through financial empowerment in the community?

Jeff: I love IBA for its personal aspect. The staff is really personable to each other and their clients. Finances can be pretty cold, but with a warmer community approach, it might make problems seem more manageable. That’s why we’re going to focus on relationship building and one on one meetings.

By creating sustainable income and preserving low income housing, this program directly aligns with IBA’s mission to empower individuals and families. Bonner and Paddock are confident that they can increase literacy and living wages through education, pursue options for rent reporting, and work to improve credit scores, all of which will hopefully increase opportunity in the community.  

If you wish to take advantage of the tools the College and Financial Empowerment program has to offer, you can apply here. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates. We look forward to working with you.

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