EARNing for a Stable Future
United Way of King County is partnering with the San Francisco based non-profit, Earned Assets Resource Network (EARN) to bring their Starter Savings Program to King County.
The EARN Starter Savings Program is an online tool that encourages saving through cash incentives. Program participants link the EARN platform with their current bank account and commit to saving a minimum of $20 per month for six months. For every month Savers are able to make their savings goal, they will earn $10.
Research shows that increasing savings and building assets give people the best chance of rising above poverty. 47% of Americans can’t pay an unexpected $400 expense without going into debt or selling something.
This holds true on a local level. The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard ranks Washington state 10th in the nation in terms of financial assets and income. 33% of households live in liquid asset poverty meaning that they do not have access to liquid savings to cover basic expenses for 3 months in the event of a medical emergency, sudden job less, or other financial crisis.
In a 2014 study, the Prosperity Agenda found that people in some areas of Washington state are geographically isolated from, and therefore cannot access, matched savings program or incentivized savings opportunity.
The EARN Stater Savings Program is a portable, low-barrier, and innovative solution to meet these needs and help people in our community take one more step toward financial stability.
EARN was one of 9 financial services innovators to win the Financial Solutions Lab Fintech Competition hosted by the Center for Financial Services Innovation and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The competition recognizes solutions that help consumers weather financial shocks and improve overall financial health.
This tool will be promoted primarily through our AmeriCorps members in the Housing Ready and Crisis Resilient program, a new initiative to connect people experiencing homelessness and financial hardships as well as community college students with public benefits, financial counseling, and other services.
However, anyone meeting the income eligibility requirement (less than 80% median county income) can sign up to save at www.earn.org/uwkc. Spread the word and help us enroll 150 savers this year!
Our Free Tax Preparation Program is available until April 20th. File your taxes online or drop by one of our 27 tax sites to work with an IRS-certified tax preparer free of charge.
Guest blogger Alysha Alani is an Emerson National Hunger Fellow at United Way of King County working to ensure that King County residents are able to weather financial shocks and can work towards long-term financial stability. She is researching innovative savings products and strategies to decrease barriers to savings among low-income workers and community college students in partnership with United Way’s Free Income Tax Preparation program and the new Housing Ready, Crisis Resilient project.