Editorial: Innovative program helps keep American dream alive

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The News Review
June 20, 2010

Sometimes you might wonder if the American dream is still possible for our younger generations. We're talking about the dream of owning your own home, getting a college education, starting your own business.

What if we told you it's not only possible, but there are programs designed to help people make that happen. And you can sign up right here in Roseburg.

We're talking about the Dream$avers program and we can't imagine why everyone who qualifies for the program hasn't already enrolled. Dream$avers is aptly named. The idea is to save money to be able to follow your dreams.

If you qualify for the program, you have up to three years to make monthly deposits until you reach $2,000 in savings. When you hit that number, you receive $3 for every $1 you saved, or $6,000.

Add that to your savings and you've suddenly got $8,000 to put toward a substantial goal.

Who's eligible? An adjusted gross income of $28,350 qualifies a single person. That's means those who make more money annually, but pay into a 401K, or contribute toward their health insurance premiums might also qualify based on their AGI.

So, who actually pays 3-to-1 on the dollar? Your fellow Oregonians who contribute to the nonprofit organization Neighborhood Partnerships. The Oregon Legislature made it attractive to donate to Neighborhood Partnerships because those who do receive an Oregon tax credit equal to 75 percent of their contribution.

The remaining 25 percent piles up to become matching funds for those with Oregon Individual Development Accounts. At Umpqua Community Development Corp. in Roseburg, you enroll in the Dream$avers program to open one of those accounts and reap the benefits.

News-Review reporter Inka Bajandas gave us a glimpse Thursday of people who successfully saved $2,000 and earned the payoff. They are among 201 people who have graduated from the Dream$avers program that Umpqua CDC operates in 12 Oregon counties. Another 401 are enrolled now and there's room for more.

The participants have used their money to start businesses, raise credit scores, get off public assistance and attend college.

At the same time they've benefited individually, the program puts money into Douglas County's economy.

Umpqua CDC Program Manager Rebekah Barger said the savings and matching funds flowing into the county since the program began in 2003 totals $552,000.

Participants aren't expected to discover how to save money on their own. They're enrolled in financial education courses and receive one-on-one counseling. Studies show that once graduates leave the program, they keep on saving. Whether it's a new habit or the result of education, it's a practice that improves their lives.

Anyone who's interested in the program should stop by Umpqua CDC's office on Kane Street in Roseburg or call 541-673-4909. Those who want to support such a worthwhile program and get a tax credit should visit neighborhoodpartnerships.org.

A program like Dream$avers has the potential to teach good savings and spending habits that will be passed onto future generations, enriching lives through financial security and knowledge.

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This page contains a single entry by CFED published on June 21, 2010 4:16 PM.

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