Asset Building at VITA
For five decades, VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) programs have provided high-quality filing assistance to LMI families completely free of charge.
Community Financial Resources was the first nonprofit to offer a general purpose reloadable prepaid debit card at VITA sites. Our Focus Card ensures people can take advantage of the safety and convenience of direct deposit for their refund. This is the first step toward building safety-net savings. Today we train VITA sites on how to connect clients to additional asset-building services.
VITA has been instrumental at putting more money back into the pockets of workers, their families, and communities. VITA helps families claim tax benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), the biggest and most effective poverty alleviation programs in the US.
Direct cash payments are a highly effective way to provide financial stability to families. More than 43% of Americans experience income volatility where annual pay fluctuates 25% or more, cash gives people the tools to solve their own problems, whether it’s paying rent, fixing the car transmitter, or enrolling a child in an after-school activity.
We’re currently partnered with the Stockton Economic Demonstration (SEED), a city-led guaranteed income pilot currently underway, to provide the Focus Card for the $500 monthly stipend. In February 2019, the 125 randomly selected Stocktonians began receiving their $500 monthly stipend.
In the face of COVID-19, we have been similarly using our Focus Cards to facilitate emergency cash distribution throughout the Bay Area. As of August 1, we distributed over $740,000 to more than 1400 households and our numbers continue to grow.
Community Financial Resources lends its expertise to city agencies, nonprofits, and financial institutions with the goal of developing solutions for financial inclusion.
We've worked on special projects such as the SF Municipal Bank Task Force, developing small-dollar installment loan programs for CDFIs, advising organizations on cost-effective payment strategies, and researching & developing white papers.
Bringing a mix of deep experience in financial product development and consumer advocacy, we provide high-quality financial tools and and services, best practices, and lessons learned that change lives and promote an inclusive economy.