Program areas at Prepare and Prosper
Tax + Financial ServicesP+P leverages the skills of hundreds of volunteers to help individuals navigate the tax code, meet their tax obligations and, for many, access income-boosting tax credits like the EITC. A tax refund may be the largest single influx of income that a taxpayer receives annually. To date, P+P has served 7,718 taxpayers in drop-off clinics, in-person clinics, and Do It Yourself tax prep, returning over $20 million in refunds and credits.By integrating financial services into the obligatory tax filing process, P+P provides customers with the opportunity to engage with and improve other areas of their financial lives while their taxes are completed. Trained volunteers work with customers to determine if products, referrals, and/or services offered on P+P's Financial Continuum of Care can contribute to advancing their short- and long-term financial goals. Customers can also review their credit report; access products- including the FAIR checking and savings accounts- to direct deposit tax refunds; and connect to referrals like LSS credit counseling, pro-bono financial planning, and P+P's financial coaching program, Money Mentors. 856 customers seen in tax clinics (DIY Tax Prep includes information about Financial Services but P+P does not receive data on usage) engaged with at least one financial product, service, or referral and/or saved part or all of their refund- 21.9%.
P+P has worked to leverage the expertise of its staff, amplify the voices of people directly affected, and build cross sector partnerships and networks to inform policy and systems change and build a more equitable, inclusive financial future. Recent efforts include strengthening public policy related to tax credits, asset building, and consumer protection. P+P staff, volunteers, and customers have focused on generating support for the progressive tax policies and public programs that provide protection for the people most affected by Minnesota's economic and racial inequities. Over the past few years, these efforts have included: - Testifying in the House Tax Committee and hosting an engagement session for young workers to gain support for the $30 million expansion of the Working Family credit;- Supporting the Tax Time Savings Bill in 2019, which resulted in a $200,000 increase in funding to reach more families with free, high-quality tax and financial services; and- Monitoring and participating in tax reform deliberations to ensure protection and possible expansion of tax credits, with a focus on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit.P+P also works to shift policy through "proof of concept." For example, through the FAIR initiative, P+P has set out to change the overall financial products marketplace by demonstrating that affordable banking products designed to help people build and protect their wealth can be a sustainable (and profitable) business practice for financial institutions.Key Systems Change Partnerships - Governor's Workforce Development Board: Suyapa Miranda serves on the Equity and New Refugees committees of this taskforce which analyzes and recommends policies to the governor and legislature.- Minnesota Asset Building Coalition: Alejandro Valenzuela, Jr sits on the advisory board of this statewide coalition of 140 nonprofits creating asset-building opportunities and reducing systemic barriers to economic mobility by engaging direct service providers and their clients in effective advocacy. - St. Paul Office of Financial Empowerment + Financial Empowerment Community Council: P+P works with OFE's CollegeBound initiative and last fall got information about the Advanced Child Tax Credit into the hands of eligible families who had not accessed it. Suyapa Miranda sits on the Financial Empowerment Community Council which advises the Office. - Liberation in a Generation: Co-founder, Jeremie Greer is Vice-Chair of P+P's Board of Directors and consults on programming and initiatives. - Prosperity Now: Prosperity Now facilitates a national network of community-based VITA and financial coaching programs and several P+P staff serve on these national committees including Katy Schultz who recently stepped down as chair of the Taxpayer Opportunity Network. P+P is an active partner, presenting at convenings and contributing to field guides and toolkits.- Other VITA sites: P+P partners with VITA sites in urban, rural, and Native communities across Minnesota to share resources and best practices in free tax preparation and asset building services. P+P offers its volunteer training modules and manuals, technical assistance, and marketing materials and strategies.
Financial Capability + LearningPrepare + Prosper runs two specialized programs designed to increase the financial health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities: Money Mentors financial coaching and FAIR.Money Mentors is a volunteer-based program that centers participants as the experts in their financial lives and provides support and resources to help them work toward their goals. Money Mentors offers space for participants to set financial goals, ask hard questions, and work through solutions with a volunteer financial coach and a monthly peer meeting, where participants are able to build community, trust, and mutual support. Throughout the six-month commitment, participants receive peer and coach support and self-structured accountability to reduce their financial stress, boost their confidence, and meet their financial goals. To date, 97 people have participated in Money Mentors this year. The FAIR financial solution-checking, savings, and credit builder accounts-is another component of P+P's intersecting tax and financial services. The FAIR products, provided in partnership with Sunrise Banks, are a banking alternative available through nearly 30 trusted community organizations. FAIR's theory of change affirm that people who are financially underserved have access to high-quality financial products, service, and support that allow a safe and cost-effective way to transact, borrow, and save, then they will increase their financial capability, confidence in their ability to navigate the financial sector, and ultimately ability to build assets and wealth. Beginning in June 2022, P+P began a pilot project to measure the impact that covering the $3 monthly checking account maintenance fee has on account closure and overall customer satisfaction. As of June 2022, FAIR has enrolled 490 customers in 753 FAIR checking, savings, and credit builder accounts.