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Building Economic Security Through Volunteer Efforts Rebecca Haase and Reyes Irizarry Community Service Society of New York.

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Presentation on theme: "Building Economic Security Through Volunteer Efforts Rebecca Haase and Reyes Irizarry Community Service Society of New York."— Presentation transcript:

1 Building Economic Security Through Volunteer Efforts Rebecca Haase and Reyes Irizarry Community Service Society of New York

2 Community Service Society (CSS) of New York– established over 160 years ago. CSS created the first Retired and Senior Volunteer Program in 1966. CSS/RSVP: – Developed the ACES Project and implemented a VITA Project in 1984 – Created the Financial Coaching Corps in 2007

3 Fighting Poverty by Strengthening New York Part of CSS’s Urban Agenda is to promote policies and programs that advance the economic security of the working poor. – Building awareness and expanding access to existing public benefits and tax credits. – Helping low-income New Yorkers develop strategies for achieving financial stability.

4 2 in 5 New Yorkers Live on Poverty’s Front Line Nearly $2 billion in state and federal money that is set aside for poor New Yorkers goes unclaimed due to individuals not being aware of their eligibility and because of barriers to applying. Evidence suggests that work supports may increase job retention, reduce job turnover, and improve family well-being.

5 CSS’s Unheard Third Survey of Low-income New Yorkers – One-third of low-income New Yorkers report having no savings. – More than half of low-income residents say they do not feel secure about meeting their future health, retirement and family needs. – The majority of low-income residents have one or more forms of “bad” debt. As the brunt of the economic downturn hits the poor and near-poor, many low-income people are facing severe credit and debt issues arising from unemployment or a reduction in work hours.

6 Financial Security Initiatives Highly trained volunteers are placed in community agencies to support low-income individuals and families through – public benefit counseling, – financial education and – free tax preparation. The programs increase agencies’ capacity to provide additional services to their clients.

7 Advocacy, Counseling and Entitlement Services (ACES)Project Trains volunteers to serve as public benefit counselors. – Screen clients for eligibility, – Assist with applications, – Solve benefit problems, and – Provide information and referrals Serve in hospitals and other non-profits – 64 volunteers in 40 sites

8 Financial Coaching Corps The financial coaches work one-on-one with individuals : – creating a budget and setting financial goals; – organizing and prioritizing bills; – obtaining and reviewing credit reports; – opening a bank account and avoiding fringe banking services. 36 volunteers trained – 19 serving in 16 sites, 17 volunteers awaiting placement

9 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance CSS works in coordination with the IRS. Volunteers are trained to provide free tax preparation to low-income populations through electronic filing 19 volunteers serve in three sites

10 Successful Elements Highly skilled volunteer assignments Recruitment/screening/interviewing procedures Well-developed training and assessment process Appropriate site development and placement Ongoing technical assistance and support Program evaluation and data collection

11 Recruitment Job Assignment - attracts higher skilled volunteer Use 10 – 15 recruitment methods - (see handout) Volunteer Recruitment Log – Date, name, contact information, referral source, interview date, staff person, status Recruitment material – press releases, flyers, fact sheets, emails

12 Screening/Interviewing Screen people on the phone – set clear expectations Two people conduct interview High standards, do not take everyone Standard interview questions as a guide for interviewer References – one business and one personal

13 Training must include: Content expertise needed to do assignment Manual or guide to use for reference Time must be spent on process – “how to work with clients” Role plays, activities, discussions, homework Assessment process – demonstrate content/ process competency

14 Technical Assistance/Ongoing Support Volunteers “shadow” an experienced volunteer. Staff or experienced volunteers support volunteer on first day. Conduct monthly meetings or continuing education workshops. Update volunteers through newsletter or emails regarding new content.

15 Site Development Market program to potential sites Meet with contact – Review MOUs, site expectations, volunteer assignment Determine if site is appropriate – client flow, referral system, space, computer and phone access Volunteer meets site supervisor

16 Site Development Initial set up – Make sure volunteer has materials, staff goes with volunteer on first day Monitor and evaluate progress at site – Volunteer should be integrated into the services at the site – Develop site evaluation procedures – Make improvements as needed

17 Program Evaluation and Data Collection FCC measures client outcomes through Efforts to Outcomes database. ACES and VITA measures client outputs. Volunteers submit statistics on a monthly basis.

18 2009 Results ACES volunteers assisted 5,198 clients with 6,046 public benefit issues. FCC conducted 600 coaching sessions. – 78% were helped with credit and debt issues – 66% had their credit report accessed and reviewed – 40% were helped with budgeting VITA volunteers assisted over 1,000 clients with free tax preparation.

19 Contacts Rebecca Haase, Program Director ACES, FCC, and VITA 212-614-5482 Reyes Irizarry, Project Director Financial Coaching Corps 212-614-5419

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