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Ride the Wave of Community Success at Prosperity Works

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Located in Albuquerque, Prosperity Works develops, manages, and funds a 21-member, statewide New Mexico Assets Consortium to deliver their products and services to help low- and moderate-income, working families develop financial security. Prosperity Works has partner organizations and lenders across the Land of Enchantment that help facilitate their programs. The Prosperity Works' business model emphasizes asset formation and maximization as a way to gain freedom from poverty.

Services include financial capability training and coaching, access to banking and credit building, which are all designed to maximize household income and decrease expenses. Debt management and tracking household budgets are also taught. However, Director Ona Porter tells us that the most effective step an individual can take is to create an Individual Development Account (IDA.)

As of January of 2015, nearly fifteen hundred New Mexico families turned their IDA savings into their dreams, using their savings to buy a home, start or expand a business, or attend college. An IDA is a matched savings account. When individuals complete a comprehensive financial education course, reach their savings goal and complete an asset purchase plan, their account is matched 4 to 1. 319 IDAs have been used to purchase homes resulting in $57 million in new mortgages. 512 individuals have used their savings for post secondary education, and 660 have created or expanded a business resulting in 1,155 new jobs in our state. This illustration clearly demonstrates that IDAs build family economic security and drive community economic development at once.

Prosperity Kidstm is a new savings program for children. "Assets and education research has demonstrates that when a child has a savings account in their own name, and there is discussion in the home about some or all of this being for college, the child is four times more likely to attend college and three times more like to finish than peers who do not have savings," Porter explains. "One of the most interesting things about these findings is that amount in savings for the children studied was $500 or less. That amount we all know does not pay for college. Rather it establishes intention, an expectation about a future that includes post-secondary education."

Prosperity Works is opening 500 Prosperity Kids accounts for young children in the South Valley of Albuquerque, with an initial deposit of $100. Family deposits in the accounts will be matched up to $200 for 10 years. This savings may be used at high school graduation for college or technical school or at age 23 for a financially secure transition into adulthood.

Working under the belief that, "Income gets you by, but assets get you ahead," Prosperity Works is offering the opportunity for New Mexicans to achieve the financially secure future of their dreams. .

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