Economic Empowerment Program

A lack of financial stability is one of the biggest deterrents for women who are considering leaving an abusive relationship. Leaving the economic security of a home, income, and benefits is more than many survivors of domestic violence can fathom – especially if they have children. In 2002, KCADV’s Economic Empowerment Program took root when the directors of KCADV’s 15 member programs identified helping survivors become economically self-sufficient as a top priority.

The first step was creating an Individual Development Account, or IDA, program. IDAs are restricted savings accounts designated for a specific asset goal. Participants in KCADV’s Classic IDA program pledge to save for a home, education, or small business, and their savings are matched 4:1. As of September 2016, about 132 account holders from KCADV member programs and community partners are receiving financial education and one-on-one financial coaching while they save for a long-term asset. Nearly 503 participants have used their funds to purchase a home, fund post-secondary education, or start or expand a small business. The Car IDA program helps domestic violence survivors purchase reliable transportation to improve employment and housing opportunities, by matching savings dollar-for-dollar up to $2000. Approximately 64 survivors are currently enrolled, and 135 have purchased cars with their savings and earned match.  At the start of 2016, KCADV introduced a new Matched Savings IDA program that provides a 1:1 match up to $200 for survivors to establish an emergency savings account or use towards other expenses.

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Rental Assistance Program

Survivors of domestic violence may be eligible for rental assistance through KCADV's new Rapid Rehousing Program.

Funds are available to help about 40 survivors throughout Kentucky, EXCEPT Lexington and Louisville. KCADV is targeting survivors who have difficulty getting assistance through other programs: survivors who are undocumented, have criminal records (with some exceptions), or owe money to public housing authorities. Applicants must meet income guidelines and have a VI-SPDAT score of 4-8. Assistance will be provided for up to 12 months, with the possibility of an extension.  For more information contact Elizabeth Anderson at eanderson@kcadv.org or 502 209-5382.

The program is funded through Kentucky Housing Corporation.

Economic Empowerment Resources

GENERAL FINANCIAL EDUCATION

Allstate Foundation Tools and Curriculum

Assets for Independence Resource Center Financial Education Resources      

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Your Money, Your Goals curriculum

National Endowment for Financial Education

US government’s financial education website

GOAL SETTING

SMART Goals Worksheet from SparkPeople.com

SPENDING & SAVING

Budget Worksheets

CREDIT & DEBT

Apprisen (formerly Consumer Credit Counseling Services)

My FICO website resources

Freddie Mac’s Credit Smart curriculum

HOMEOWNERSHIP

Kentucky Housing Corporation

SMALL BUSINESS

Business Planning Templates from SCORE

Kentucky Small Business Development Center

Community Ventures Corporation 

Kentucky One-Stop Business Portal

EDUCATION

Women’s Independence Scholarship Program

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority

EMPLOYMENT

Allstate Foundation Career Empowerment Curriculum

FOR CHILDREN & YOUTH

Piggy Bank Primer

National Endowment for Financial Education’s Workshops for Youth

PUBLIC ASSISTANCE

Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program (KCHIP)

Kentucky Food Benefits/EBT

Kentucky Head Start

Kentucky Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Kentucky Medical Program (KMP)

Kentucky School Breakfast and Lunch Program

Kentucky Special Milk Program

Kentucky Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

Kentucky Summer Food Service

Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (K-TAP)

Kentucky Unemployment Insurance

Kentucky Weatherization Assistance Program

Homeownership Assistance

National Service at KCADV

AmeriCorps State and National is a federal program that engages thousands of Americans in intensive community service each year. Members of KCADV’s AmeriCorps State program, the Economic Empowerment Corps (EEC), commit to one year of direct service providing financial education for survivors of domestic violence and their children. Members of the EEC engage in direct service to meet community needs through 1700 hours of service at KCADV member programs or collaborative partners. Members begin service on 9/1/2017.

AmeriCorps State and National recruitment is open! Apply HERE now!

For more information, please check out the EEC’s Potential Member's Guide.

This guide provides more details about the EEC, a position description, how to apply (with step-by-step screenshots), and benefits. AmeriCorps members receive a modest living allowance, student-loan forbearance, health coverage, and childcare for those who are eligible.  Upon completion of service, AmeriCorps members may receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. See AmeriCorps State and National Frequently Asked Questions.

KCADV receives a federal grant that supports the EEC from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The EEC is supported at the state level by the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service (KCCVS).

AmeriCorps VISTA:

Through KCADV’s partnership with Homes for All Corps, KCADV has AmeriCorps VISTA members providing indirect services at KCADV and several KCADV programs. VISTA members develop and implement economic empowerment programming to increase access for survivors and improve financial literacy.

KCADV is not currently recruiting for a VISTA member at this time.

Online Financial Education Modules

KCADV has developed a series of online financial education modules.  These modules were specifically designed for survivors participating in KCADV’s IDA program in order to fulfill financial education requirements, but anyone can benefit and may use them. 

These modules are designed to introduce survivors to basic financial education core competencies.  Modules include information on budgeting, credit management, and predatory financial products.  The online financial education modules can be accessed here (http://ee.kcadv.org/).

Free Tax Preparation

Kentuckians have access to nearly 200 free tax preparation sites across the state where trained and IRS-certified volunteers will assist you with your taxes and help you apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). KCADV operates two free tax preparation sites under an IRS grant awarded to United Way of the Bluegrass (UWBG).

Taxpayers may call Andrea Miller or Isela Arras at KCADV at 502-209-5382 to determine whether they are eligible for KCADV tax preparation services. KCADV provides free tax preparation for survivors at its 15 member programs and for Kentucky Community and Technical College Ready-to-Work students. KCADV also operates a site in Lexington’s Parkside neighborhood, which serves many immigrant taxpayers. 

In 2017, KCADV prepared 657 tax returns for low- to moderate-income households, earning Kentucky families over $1 million in federal refunds. KCADV tax preparers helped low-income taxpayers claim nearly $500,000 in Earned Income Tax Credits, for an average of $2,000 per taxpayer. More tax preparation statistics:

Eastern Kentucky Mobile Site

  • 277 returns completed
  • $2113 average EIC
  • Taxpayer average Adjusted Gross Income--$19,491
  • $490,504 in total federal refunds

Parkside site

  • 380 returns completed
  • $1985 average EIC
  • Taxpayer average Adjusted Gross Income--$22,299
  • $614,632 in total federal refunds

 

More KY Free Tax Preparation Sites:

Central Kentucky Economic Empowerment Project (Lexington area – United Way of the Bluegrass) – 859-233-4460 or Dial 211 in Central Kentucky – https://www.uwbg.org/ckeep

Louisville Asset Building Coalition – 502-814-2715 or 502-305-0005 to schedule an appointment – https://www.labcservices.org/

Northern Kentucky Asset Building Coalition (Brighton Center) – 859-491-8303 – http://www.brightoncenter.com/programs/financial_services/volunteer-income-tax-assistance

Northeast Asset Building Coalition (Gateway Community Action Agency) – 606-743-3133 – http://www.gcscap.org

Green River Asset Building Coalition (Owensboro area) – 270-685-1603 – https://grabc.org/

Barren River Asset Building Coalition (Bowling Green area) – 270-782-3162 – http://www.casoky.org/brabc

Eastern Kentucky Asset Building Coalition (Hazard area) – 606-436-8853 – https://www.facebook.com/easternkentuckyassetbuildingcoalition

 

What documents should you bring to the tax preparation site?

  • Valid picture ID
  • Copy of 2015 tax return (if you have it)
  • Social Security numbers or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) for you, your spouse and any children born before December 31, 2016. (If available, bring the Social Security cards or ITIN letters to ensure the information is copied correctly onto the tax return).
  • Income documentation including:
    • W-2 forms from all jobs worked in 2016
    • All 1099 forms showing other income received in 2016
    • Cash income received
    • Bank name, account number, and the 9-digit American Bankers’ Association (ABA) routing number. Contact your bank if you need assistance identifying the ABA number.
    • If you don’t belong to any bank, you can still use the free tax preparation services at any of these sites, have your taxes filed electronically, and the IRS will mail you a check if you have earned a refund.
    • Some sites also have pre-paid cards on which refunds can be deposited.

If any of the following apply to you, take documentation with you:

  • Child care expenses, including the provider’s address and federal ID #
  • Mortgage company statements
  • Adoption expenses
  • Alimony paid or received
  • Any notices received from the IRS or state tax office
  • Property tax bills
  • College tuition and student loan interest statements
  • Additions forms of income such as:
    • Prizes and awards
    • Scholarship and fellowships
    • Lottery/gambling winnings

If you lost or do not have all of these items, you can still get your taxes prepared. Call the IRS toll-free helpline at (800) 829-1040 to find out what you need to do and how to obtain replacement documents.

Microloans

KCADV offers a microloan program to help survivors establish or improve credit and reduce debt as they move toward financial stability. Microloans help individuals establish or improve credit when paid on time and used in conjunction with at least one other open and active line of credit.

Payments are reported to the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. So, it is critical that payments are made on time and that the loan is paid in full. A good credit score helps individuals access credit, removes potential housing and employment barriers, and saves money over the long term.

Suggested uses for the microloan include:  housing expenses, payments on past due debt, unexpected expenses (ie: car repairs, medical expenses), or opening an emergency savings account.  Unless there are extenuating circumstances, KCADV requires that loans be issued to a vendor of the applicant’s choosing, such as a landlord, utility company, mechanic, etc.

Who can apply?

Survivors of domestic violence who are working with an advocate at a KCADV member program may apply for unsecured microloans.  Applicants must have met at least three times with their program advocate before applying for a microloan.

What makes a good microloan candidate?

It is important that the advocate believe that applicants are able and likely to repay their loans in full.  A good microloan candidate has steady income, is able to pay their basic household expenses each month, and is in regular contact with their advocate.

How does a survivor apply?

After meeting with a client at least three times, if an advocate determines that the client is a good microloan candidate (can afford monthly payments in addition to all other financial obligations), they can assist the client with the Application, Budget, and Terms and Conditions.  

Documentation of all sources of income AND a detailed budget that includes monthly payments for the requested loan must be submitted with each application.  If the applicant is an IDA saver, the monthly IDA deposit must also be shown on the budget. We encourage applicants to use a zero balanced budget, in which every dollar is allocated to a specific budget area.

It is very important that advocates thoroughly review the Terms and Conditions with each applicant.  Advocates will fax, mail, or email applications to Elizabeth Anderson or Andrea Miller at KCADV.

What happens after an application is approved?

After approval, KCADV will notify the advocate that the application is approved.  KCADV will issue a check made payable to the vendor (or vendors) and mail the check to the advocate. Advocates will assist applicants in setting up payroll deductions or automatic payments, provide confirmation to KCADV, and release the check.  

Approved loans are assessed a $15 loan fee IF automatic payment is not set up. For example, a borrower whose $500 loan request is approved will receive a check for $485, but pay back $500 in 12 installments.

When are monthly payments due?

KCADV must receive a first loan payment NO LATER THAN the last day of the month following the date the loan was granted.  Automatic payments should be set up based on the client’s pay dates but MUST be received at least once per month.

It is the borrower’s responsibility to stop payroll deductions to KCADV when the loan is paid in full. Borrowers will receive monthly statements showing their remaining balance.

How much can a survivor borrow?

A survivor can borrow up to $500, but should not borrow so much that they cannot afford the monthly payments and meet all other financial obligations.  Loans must be repaid over 12 months. The amount of each automatic payment will be based on the amount of the loan and the number of pay periods per year. For example, a $500 loan to a borrower who is paid bi-weekly will have $19.23 ($500/26 pay periods) deducted from each check. A $400 loan to a borrower who is paid weekly will have $7.69 ($400/52 pay periods) deducted from each check.

Is there interest on the loans?

KCADV microloans are interest-free.

What happens if the client misses a payment or is late making a payment?

KCADV is required by our reporting agreement to accurately report payment information to the credit bureaus.  If a payment is missed or late, that information will be reported to the credit bureaus, and it can damage the borrower’s credit score.

If the borrower’s employment changes, it is their responsibility to make sure that payments continue. It is imperative that borrowers communicate with KCADV about any concerns regarding payments. KCADV is happy to discuss options for modifying loan terms.

What if a client defaults on their loan?
KCADV is required by our reporting agreement to accurately report payment and default activity to the credit bureaus and will report the loan as a CHARGE OFF after three consecutive missed payments.  Clients must understand that this can have a significant negative impact on credit scores, affecting opportunities to access housing, employment, and loans, including auto and home loans

Individual Development Accounts

Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) are matched savings accounts designed to help survivors save toward a specific asset goal. Participants’ savings earn matching funds when program requirements are complete, so that savings grow quickly. IDA savers are required to participate in financial education, asset-specific training, and one-on- one budgeting and credit counseling sessions.

What can IDAs be used for?

  • The Classic IDA is a federally funded program through the Assets for Independence Act.  The Classic IDA can be used toward the purchase of a first home, post-secondary education (either for the survivor or for a dependent), or to start or expand a small business.
  • The Car IDA is a privately funded program through the Allstate Foundation.  The Car IDA helps survivors purchase vehicles to eliminate the barrier transportation has on gaining employment, housing, and school.
  • The Matched Savings IDA is a privately funded program through the Allstate Foundation.  The Matched Savings IDA is a great way for survivors to establish an emergency fund or prepare for large expenses.

Who is eligible for the IDA program?

  • Participants must have a net worth of less than $10,000.00.
  • Participants must have a household income of less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level or must have qualified for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) on their most recent tax return.
  • Earned income is required for the Classic IDA, but not for the Car or Matched Savings IDA.