Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is awarded a 2018 DollarWise Grant to support his City’s Parramore Kidz Zone Summer Youth Employment Program
DollarWise is committed to creating substantive economic mobility opportunities for residents in cities and communities throughout the United States. By acquiring financial capabilities and having access to tangible resources, low and moderate-income residents can remove barriers to their financial success and begin to build assets and opportunities that ultimately lead them to positive financial health.
The DollarWise Campaign believes in addressing economic mobility through a three-pronged approach: first by removing barriers to economic mobility that keep people in poverty, second by promoting opportunities for residents to obtain economic mobility, and third by helping people build economic assets and wealth.
We believe in a comprehensive approach to helping residents thrive economically, fostering and supporting innovative programs nationwide that promote and expand efforts in the following areas (though not limited to):
Affordable Housing and Homeownership
Financial Capability and Financial Education
Jobs and Livable Wages
Youth Development and Summer Youth Employment
We know that when individuals and families have the opportunity to prosper in each of these areas, their lives change for the better.
Policy Efforts Surrounding Economic Mobility
DollarWise is dedicated to supporting and learning about regional/local policy measures that alleviate the financial stress of their residents or remove barriers to economic mobility (e.g. eliminating bail bonds or probation fees, eliminating high fees for vehicle impoundment, discontinuing sentencing practices that may include jail time for residents who can’t pay traffic tickets, suspension of driver’s licenses without notification for inability to pay fines due to illness or unemployment etc.) DollarWise believes that the first step to promoting economic mobility in communities means first removing the barriers that stunt economic growth for individuals and families. Only once these barriers are removed, can the process of economic mobility begin.
What we do
DollarWise Innovation Grants
Each year, DollarWise offers USCM members the opportunity to apply for an award through its Innovation Grant Program. As of 2019, DollarWise has awarded grants to 85 cities.
Member cities of The United States Conference of Mayors are eligible to apply for the DollarWise Innovation Grants. The DollarWise Innovation Grants Program is designed to foster innovative efforts that help working people and families, particularly within underserved and underrepresented communities, attain access to economic mobility.
DollarWise grant awardees demonstrate a strong dedication to helping low & moderate-income residents improve their economic health and success.
2019 Innovation Grant Award Winners
On January 25th 2019, the DollarWise Campaign awarded Innovation Grants of $10,000 each, to five cities across the country, to help expand the economic mobility efforts in their communities. The 2019 Grants were awarded during the 87th U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan was awarded a grant to expand the city’s summer youth employment program, focusing on youth whose parents are immigrants or returning from incarceration.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley was awarded a DollarWise Grant to expand a legal clinic for underserved residents, to remove barriers to employment through the Miami Valley Community Action Partnership. The program helps residents navigate the judicial system, restore or acquire drivers licenses, and obtain employment.
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor received a grant to expand his city’s child savings account program – Lansing Save. The City has partnered with Kroger to create a system where a percentage of money spent on groceries by a family can be automatically deposited into the family’s child savings account. Academic research reports will be provided based on 2019 participation.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell will use her DollarWise Grant to provide skills training and mentorship to youth in its juvenile detention system, through the City’s Welcoming Project.
And Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve will use her DollarWise award to help homeless residents obtain work-readiness training and housing through the Reno Works initiative. The program is 12-weeks long and maintains a success rate of over 80%.
DollarWise Summer Youth Contest
Each year, the DollarWise Campaign, in partnership with The U.S. Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council, launches the DollarWise Summer Youth Contest to help youth in summer jobs have access to financial education. Since 2012, over 10,000 youth have participated in this initiative.
Each summer, youth are invited to complete a set of financial education modules that cover important topics. In 2018, these topics included: setting a budget, the anatomy of a paycheck, understanding credit and debit cards, completing a FAFSA, the true cost of purchasing a car, and renting a place to live.
Register for the 2019 Summer Youth Contest
To register your city for the 2019 Summer Youth Contest, go to the link here. The DollarWise Campaign will follow up with you with instructions on how youth in your program can participate.
For 2019, Contest raffles will be held each Friday (5pm ET), from July 5th, until August 2nd.
Three winners will be randomly selected to win iPads, Kindles, and iPods each week, and are invited to take a photo with the mayors of their respective cities.
After completing all five modules, youth will be encouraged to complete a cumulative fifteen-question final exam that further test their knowledge on the contest material. All youth who score an 80% or higher on the exam receive a digital DollarWise Summer Youth Contest certificate of completion.
We hope that your program will collaborate with us again this year in an effort to promote both the substance and positive outcomes of summer youth programs across the nation
Summer Youth Campaign
DollarWise encourages each city to incorporate a financial education component into its summer youth employment program. Our goal is to make financial education a key component of every summer youth job.
A summer youth job can be a watershed moment in a youth’s life when he/she learns the responsibility of work and the excitement of earning money. Being hired for a job and receiving a paycheck is a teachable moment that can shape attitudes and habits that last a lifetime. The idea is to use this window of opportunity to instill in youth conscientious habits and attitudes toward money and equip them with financial-management skills.
Leading up to April 15th 2019, DollarWise encourages cities and mayors to promote free tax assistance programing in their communities. DollarWise strongly urges cities to promote the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as an opportunity for residents in lower tax brackets to potentially receive more money in their tax refunds, and use that money to create a savings plan.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The IRS’ VITA program offers free tax help to people who generally make $55,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.
In addition to VITA, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors. The IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.
Before going to a VITA or TCE site, see Publication 3676-B for services provided and check out the What to Bring page to ensure you have all the required documents and information that volunteers will need to help you. *Note: available services can vary at each site due to the availability of volunteers certified with the tax law expertise required for your return.
Some VITA sites offer CAA service to taxpayers along with their VITA program.
The IRS’ Free File Program allows taxpayers making under $66,000 a year to file their federal taxes (and state taxes where applicable) online for free. Taxpayers can participate in Free File by going to IRS.gov/FreeFile. View the video below for more information.
VITA and Free File are just two resources that residents can use to seek free tax assistance – although cities are encouraged to utilize all resources that can assist their communities.
DollarWise Best Practices & Reports
Financial Education Best Practices
Summer Youth Jobs and Financial Education
How do I set up an economic mobility campaign in my city?
Setting up a local economic mobility campaign may sound overwhelming, but it is easier than you might think. Sure, it will take some work and a little bit of effort, but by following a few simple steps you’ll be up and running in no time.
Step 1 Analyze your city’s economic mobility needs
Different cities scope out their economic mobility needs in different ways. Some bring together groups of city and community leaders and residents to discuss their challenges and how to begin addressing them. Others take a statistical approach based on sources such as census and IRS data. Yet others use some combination of the two. Ultimately, chances are you’ll be able to identify many different groups to help. The best approach is often to focus your efforts on one segment of your community and then expand from there as your capacity grows.
Step 2 Find out who’s already addressing those needs
Most likely, one or more organizations are working on economic mobility in your city. There’s no need to “reinvent the wheel,” as the saying goes. Learn who those groups are, how and where they do their work, and the segments of your community they work with. Groups that are probably addressing economic mobility may include faith-based groups, financial institutions, public and private schools, nonprofits, the local housing authority and/or housing-assistance programs, local employers, and other community-based groups.
Step 3 Develop partnerships with those groups
Establish partnerships with those organizations that are working to improve economic mobility. Help them to reinforce and enhance their work and to build a coordinated, citywide effort. You can work with them on organizing classes, workshops, and community programs. Your work with them will create a foundation for even greater expansion of your local economic mobility efforts in the future.
Step 4 Take advantage of all DollarWise has to offer
- Apply for a DollarWise Innovation Grant.
- Participate in the DollarWise Summer Youth Campaign and DollarWise Month.
- Work with your local partners to organize economic mobility opportunities and events.
- Work with our national partners and learn from other DollarWise cities.
- Make a commitment to an ongoing, year-round economic mobility effort.
- Evaluate your local campaign. Identify areas in which you can improve.
Stay Connected With DollarWise
Contact DollarWise Program Manager James Kirby at: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the program.