Asset-building programs help people to learn, plan, grow their personal savings, and safely invest in life-changing assets. In some cases, these strategies complement and/or build upon public programs that stabilize incomes and reduce expenses for the working poor; employment assistance, subsidized housing, daycare subsidies and micro-business income.
Midas's Asset building programs focus on the following areas:
Matched Savings Programs
Building a bridge from today’s realities to tomorrow’s opportunities.
The Midas Collaborative offers a combination of incentives, support and access to help people build assets, including matched savings programs, where low-wage workers and microentrepreneurs invest in their futures. Multiple matched savings programs are operating in partnership with member organizations in Massachusetts. Program participants commit to save a fixed sum monthly in a dedicated savings account for one to two years. Midas matches their savings with a 1:1 to 3:1 ratio so they can purchase a life-changing asset. Assets purchased include first homes, higher education, small businesses, and more. For lower income participants transitioning into stable employment and housing, we offer asset matches for purchases that reward personal goals and maintaining modest savings, leading to investment in vehicles, computers, rainy day funds, or other assets that enhance income and stability.
During the savings period of the program, participants join peer groups, attend workshops, develop business plans, and/or participate in individual coaching sessions to build their financial skills, rectify financial issues, learn about the economy, and engage their families and communities in planning for their next step: asset ownership.
Investor testimonials on the power of matched savings programs:
“I quit smoking because I realized I couldn’t really afford it when I added it up over a year.”
“I was stuck and lost for so long. After this program, now I feel like I have a map. I may not get there soon, but now I know where I need to go! It feels much better.”
National research has shown that matched savings programs – previously called Individual Development Account (IDA) Programs – increase savings and protect homeowners from foreclosure. Studies also show that children of parents who save have better academic and social outcomes.
Midas has helped over 1400 low and moderate income investors in Massachusetts. Our low and moderate income "investors" are located across the state and are saving, learning, and planning for their new assets. Of the over 1500 that have enrolled at our member sites, $1.9 million has been saved, earning a combined match of over $2.6 million. Investors have attended almost 17,000 hours of financial and asset training to build their financial capacities. The 739 recent graduates have invested in over $42 million worth into homes, education, small businesses, and other assets. An independent program evaluation was completed in March 2011.
These programs are managed in an efficient collaborative network model which provides for quality management, lower administrative costs, and economies of scale while providing community-specific program designs and lower barriers to entry for new programs.
- Midas (central) provides assistance in design and implementation, training for staff, back-office fiscal management assistance, customized policies and procedures, match funding, savings account management, data collection, and evaluation.
- Midas members assess the needs of their communities and work with Midas to design an appropriate program structure. Members then provide direct service to matched savings investors; recruitment, training, and counseling or coaching.
Invest In College Success
In 2014, Midas launched Invest in College Success (ICS), an innovative public-private partnership designed to help community college students make informed decisions on how to manage college costs and, in doing so, increase their likelihood of continuing higher education year-to-year and completing a college degree. Partners in the two year pilot include Bunker Hill, Northern Essex and Springfield Technical community colleges, uAspire and evaluator The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Elements of the pilot include financial education classes, virtual college affordability advising, individual financial coaching, and savings match incentives. Over 1000 students have participated in ICS, creating a support network for students while building financial capability and assets while pursuing their educational dreams.
Low-wage workers retrieve what’s theirs.
Midas formed the Mass Tax & Assets Consortium with the Boston EITC Coalition in 2007, which expanded tax site capacity through technical assistance, training, research, and coordination throughout the Massachusetts. Midas members across the state continue to coordinate to deliver free tax preparation services to thousands of low-wage workers across the state, recovering more than $20 million for low income families and communities. The efforts are coordinated by the City of Boston’s Boston Tax Help program staff. Midas worked with partners, advocates, and public officials to successfully expand the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit by 50%.
“No One is an Island”
Every person’s financial stability rests on the infrastructure of a community network and nowhere is that more evident than in lower income communities. In families with fewer financial assets, community assets are paramount. Financial problems and misinformation exacerbate social isolation and economic marginalization, continuing a cycle of community instability and dislocation. Groups that address financial matters head-on in a group context can reverse this spiral.
The Midas Collaborative team believes that community-building is integral to financial stability and advancement. We promote this through our community outreach for financial education and training opportunities. Our work in this arena includes:
- Hosting savings clubs and small financial empowerment groups for women, various cultural communities, and others.
Integrating financial content with ongoing community activities,
Promoting ‘learner-centered’ facilitation methods, to cultivate participant engagement and leadership,
- Providing credible consumer information to counterbalance the destructive marketing of the high cost or predatory financial services,
- Connecting personal finance with public policy, providing leadership opportunities in promoting economic policies that affect the community.
Midas member, Lawrence Community Works published ground-breaking research on their network organizing model, which many Midas members now share. Midas published research on best practices in financial education (PDF), which outlined the 'learner-centered' model, as well as the case for integrating financial topics into existing community venues. The key to these programs is the positive small group setting, where support and information lead to important new community connections and moments of economic revelation and accountability for participants.
Midas programs have higher retention and graduation rates than the national averages for matched savings programs. Midas graduates are more engaged with their communities and Midas advocacy activities as a result of the program.