"[People] may come in to get their taxes done but they may also be thinking about how to save money to send their kids to college. And we wanted to make it as easy as possible for families to be successful and connect those dots," said Barclay Jones of the Mile High United Way.
The United way partnered with the Denver Office of Economic Development, the Denver Housing Authority and Denver Asset Building Coalition as founding partners for the center, which opened in late 2009.
"What we're really trying to do [is] make sure that folks know there's a level of basic understanding that we need to have around finances, savings and budgets," Barclay said. "How do we get people to think regularly about their credit score and know what it is just like they would know what their blood pressure is?"
The center seeks to achieve that mission by offering free financial literacy classes. While some of those classes focus on life skills like balancing a budget, others focus on more complex skills like developing a retirement plan or saving for large expenses. That's where the Mile High United Way's Individual Development Account program comes into play.
"It allows a family to save $1,000 of their own money and have that matched with $4,000 that's been raised with private and public donors," Barclay said.
Eligible participants cannot make more than about $45,000 for a family of four. The grant money can only be applied directly to paying for college, purchasing a new home, or covering business expenses for local business owners. Participants must register with the program and contribute regularly (at least once every three months) to their designated private savings account. A person can be eligible to do the program twice, receiving a total of $8,000.
While it is not a workforce center, the King Trimble Economic Prosperity Center does offer connections to employment resources. It also hosts advanced computer classes which can help skilled people who are recently unemployed.
Founding partner Denver Asset Building Coalition also offers free services. On Saturday, March 27th the organization will be offering free tax preparation. Anyone who makes $49,000 or less per year is eligible to come in and have their taxes prepared for free at the organization's office on 2980 Curtis Street from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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