Helping families rewrite their financial legacy
About Project GREEN
Project GREEN (Grassroots Economic Empowerment Network) is based in Grand Rapids, MI and serves primarily Kent County and the Greater West Michigan community.
Mission: Helping families rewrite their financial legacy. Vision: Turning everyday people into money heroes!
HOW WE SERVE:
Project GREEN’s vision is to destroy poverty and create financial stability by turning everyday people into money heroes. Our definition of a money hero: someone who is pursuing their own financial goals and helping others to do the same. This concept forms the grassroots nature of our organization, and that which intentionally transforms the communities we serve – from the inside out.
Helping families rewrite their financial legacy is accomplished both by moving the consumers we serve away from asset-reducing products and practices – like payday lending – and toward asset-building mechanisms and life-changing financial education. We empower those we serve to build a successful financial legacy for present and future generations, both in dollars and in wisdom.
Our four strategic focus areas:
• Awareness: Raise awareness of the dangers of payday and other predatory lending practices; increase financial capabilities through direct service resources
• Alternatives: Redirect short-term lending from payday loans to fair options
• Asset-Building: Move Michigan households from asset-reducing to asset-building products and practices
• Advocacy: Remove systemic barriers and increase consumer protections
Direct service programs we offer within the above focus areas:
• Money Talk Workshop (MTW) – 3-part series teaching foundational personal finance principles – tracking expenses, creating budgets, reducing spending, saving, understanding short- and long-term savings and investment tools. MTW is the “onramp” to our other programs.
• 500 Strong – After their graduation from MTW, we invite participants to build an initial emergency savings fund of $500 over the course of 16 weeks. They contribute $25/week over that period, and then we match $100 at the end, to total $500. During this program, we support participants with group weekly check-ins and empowering content to enhance what they learned in the MTW.
• Credit Building 101 – In this training based on Credit Builder’s Alliance curricula, we meet participants where they are, give them a thorough overview of the credit reporting industry, and teach credit building as a distinct financial capability with tools that help them achieve their goals.
• Pay-It-Forward (PIF) – PIF is a partnership between Project GREEN and select church congregations in Kent County. Often, patrons will approach the Church for monetary assistance in times of dire need with bills, e.g., gas is about to be shut off due to late payment. Churches give assistance out of their benevolence funds and normally don’t expect repayment. In the PIF program, their benevolence becomes a repayable gift initiative. Patrons will be given the opportunity to pay back the gift they receive in installments; once the principal is paid back in full, the patron will be encouraged to continue saving up to $250 into an account with an outside bank or credit union. Once $250 is reached, the church will then provide a $250 match into that account for a total of $500 saved! This new savings account will allow the patron to respond to his/her own financial needs more easily in future; and the repayment means that the church can assist a greater number of people in need.
• Rent Reporting for Credit Building – We work with housing authorities to get on-time rent payments reported on their residents’ credit reports as a credit building opportunity, moving their residents toward positive credit scores that move toward lower insurance premiums, lower interest rates, and the dream of homeownership.
• 1000 Families of Color – Through partnership with Legacy Homes/Keller Williams Realty, our goal is to help 1000 low-to-moderate income families of color achieve first-time homeownership over the next four years.
• Grassroots Financial Advocates (GFA) Program – “Everyday people” recruited from within the community who are trained as an extension of our team. They support and promote Project GREEN’s financial empowerment resources and drive their own financial advocacy projects.
• 1-to-1 Mentoring – We offer one-on-one personal financial consultation and coaching to individuals upon request, as well as a follow-up to our program participants.