With social distancing finally behind us, we resumed in-person convenings, bringing together community leaders from across Texas to drive systemic change and build long-term financial security for Texans.
15th Anniversary RAISE Texas Summit: In March, RAISE Texas and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas hosted Connect to Effect: Building an Equitable Financial Ecosystem for Texans. Over two days, we brought together 193 community stakeholders and leaders from 113 organizations, including nonprofits, financial institutions, funders, and local, state, and federal agencies. Find our report here and presentation details here.
Shifting the Narrative Workshop: In May, RAISE Texas and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas hosted Dr. Tiffany Manuel for a workshop on narrative change. When explaining the impact of this workshop, one participant shared, "It challenged me to think in emotional and visual ways to frame the issues we seek to address without focusing on the deficits."
First-ever Texas VITA Conference: In June, RAISE Texas hosted the first-ever Texas VITA Conference, bringing together 80 community leaders from 38 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs across the state to exchange ideas, discuss challenges, and learn how to improve and expand the vital work of VITA in Texas. Find our report here and resources from the convening here.
Financial Coaching with a Cultural Lens: Through a grant from the Texas Financial Education Endowment, RAISE Texas created, tested and launched a curriculum based on coalition feedback and research showing the need to supplement financial coaching training with core competencies in financial education along with cultural competence and an understanding of the racial wealth divide.
Advocacy & Education: In partnership with the Texas Fair Lending Alliance, RAISE Texas conducted a statewide survey of small dollar loan options that are available to Texans with no credit and/or lower credit scores. See the extensive list here. As a companion resource for consumers, RAISE Texas created Better Options When You Need Cash Now, in English and Spanish. These resources have been shared with Texas legislators to demonstrate the availability of affordable, safe loans up to $2,500 with interest rates that do not exceed 36%.
Training: RAISE Texas offered 15 professional development and training courses for organizations and social service providers working to address the racial wealth divide and build financial security across the state. With 909 registered and representing every region of Texas, 100% reported that they will use the information provided.
Building Capacity: RAISE Texas offered 29 full scholarships for Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) courses and 4 scholarships for the AFC certification and exam.
Building Capacity: RAISE Texas partnered with United Ways of Texas and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta to bring the Career Ladder Identifierand Financial Forecaster (CLIFF) Dashboard to Texas. This free tool helps financial, career and education coaches identify where benefit cliffs occur and allows clients to anticipate and navigate those barriers.
Training: RAISE Texas hosted a total of 9 virtual trainings with 902 participants from every region of Texas. In our training evaluations, 100% of participants said they would use the information they learned, with 93% planning to use the information immediately or within 6 months.
Building Capacity: With generous support from JPMorgan Chase and the marketing agency OneLeg, RAISE Texas developed a bilingual Facebook ad campaign and press releases to increase awareness of the expanded child tax credit and connect Texas families to local assistance to claim their credit.
See our Annual Report for more details!
Convening: In partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, RAISE Texas hosted a virtual two-day summit for 140 members of our community of practice. See our report, Insights on Financial Resilience from the RAISE Texas Coalition, for key takeaways.
Building Capacity: The RAISE Texas Financial Coaching Hub supported coaches pivoting to virtual services and shared resources to help coaches address unemployment claims, debt and unprecedented financial uncertainties. Early in the pandemic, RAISE Texas hosted 3 virtual meetings with 162 coaches attending from across the state and 3 debt-specific webinars with 110+ participants.
Technical Assistance: RAISE Texas provided technical assistance to United Way of Metropolitan Dallas (UWMD) and Communities Foundation of Texas to design, develop and launch the Dollars for College program for kindergartners and first graders to start saving for college. In two school districts, 1,000+ kindergartners and first graders received financial education from the curriculum created by RAISE Texas, connecting the state's curriculum to the children’s savings account program. More than 500 families opened 529 accounts to save for their child's college education.
Sharing Lessons from the Field: RAISE Texas released Big Benefits for Texas Employers and Workers, a report on a case study launched with community loan centers in 2017 and completed in 2019.
Building Capacity: RAISE Texas and a team of community leaders launched the Texas Financial Coaching Hub at the 2018 RAISE Texas Summit and offered the Hub’s first activities in 2019, including regional huddles for coaches to hone skills and share resources.
Convening: RAISE Texas convened its statewide Community Leadership Team at the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas to plan our work for 2020-2021.
Training: RAISE Texas coordinated the first regional financial coaching training, producing 30 new financial coaches.
Celebrated 10 years of RAISE Texas! With a dedicated staff of two, our network has grown hundreds of organizations, institutions and individuals who want to make Texas a place where low and moderate income Texans can thrive.
Convening: RAISE Texas hosted a two-day summit with 170 members at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Technical Assistance: RAISE Texas worked with the Texas Fair Lending Alliance on developing standards to assess small dollar loan products.
Building Capacity: With the support of our Financial Coaching Committee and our Community Leadership Team, RAISE Texas launched the Texas Financial Coaching Hub at the 2018 summit.
Advocacy: To incentivize and reward saving in Texas, RAISE Texas worked with partners to pass state legislation and a constitutional amendment that allowed credit unions and banks to offer prize-linked savings.
Sharing Lessons from the Field: RAISE Texas and Every Texan released a report on Workplace Financial Wellness Programs showing that workplace programs, like employer-based lending and automatic savings opportunities, can play an important role reducing the state’s high rate of financial insecurity.
Testing Solutions: RAISE Texas launched a multi-year case study on connecting the Community Loan Center's small dollar loan to other financial services through workplace financial wellness programs.
Convening: The RAISE Texas Summit on “Building Financial Success for Texans: In Schools, The Workplace and Our Communities” was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, with 200 people attending.
Advocacy: RAISE Texas was a key partner in passing legislation that required financial education in grades K-8 in Texas schools. RAISE Texas and partners have used this as a tool to implement financial capability programs in Texas classrooms.
Testing Solutions: With our partners, RAISE Texas conducted feasibility studies in school districts in Dallas and Austin to expand children’s savings for college through the state’s financial education curriculum. Our research findings helped us launch new CSAs and create Texas-based recommendations.
Advocacy: Informed by RAISE Texas Child Support for College (CS4C) initiative, the Texas State Securities Board passed Rule 139.24 to allow financial coaches and counselors to assist families with completing applications for college savings programs (529 accounts) to move college savings forward in Texas.
Convening: Co-hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, RAISE Texas hosted its annual summit, “Creating Financial Capability Opportunities for all Texans." Over 300 members attended. This three-day event included two financial coaching trainings for organizations to train coaches, a workshop on savings initiatives, a workshop on small dollar loan alternatives, and a day-long summit to engage our network in new asset building work and upcoming pilot projects.
Technical Assistance: RAISE Texas and Every Texan provided technical assistance to conduct a pilot with two employers to evaluate saving through payroll deduction. An evaluation focused on policy recommendations and how to scale future savings programs.
Sharing Lessons from the Field: RAISE Texas published Saving For College: The Why, When, and How - A Guide of College Savings Products for Texans.
Testing Solutions: The Smart Saver Texans Program launched in the Amarillo school district. Partnering with the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin, Amarillo ISD, Happy State Bank and the Texas Council on Economic Education, with funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury, RAISE Texas and Every Texan studied the impact of in-school banking in conjunction with instruction on Texas’ new financial education standards for 4th graders.
Building Capacity: To advance the financial coaching field, RAISE Texas defined financial coaching and created a common set of standards and core competencies to ensure high quality programs throughout Texas.
Testing Solutions: RAISE Texas launched the Child Support for College (CS4C) initiative, working with three financial coaching programs and the Texas Attorney General – Child Support Division (CSD), to encourage long-term economic success for families in the child support system. The project assisted custodial parents receiving child support with opening a college savings account and providing free financial coaching. This project was the first of its kind in the country.
Convening: RAISE Texas held its annual summit, “Providing the Tools for Financial Stability” at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Houston Branch.
Technical Assistance: RAISE Texas released the RAISE Texas IDA Toolkit to assist organizations in developing, expanding, and implementing an Individual Development Account (IDA) Program in their communities.
Building Capacity: RAISE Texas provided grants through the OpportunityTexas Innovation and Investment Fund to help organizations encourage Texans to save at tax time. These grants were offered over a five-year period and incentivized savings through gifts cards, with the goal of increasing the number of VITA site filers that saved a portion of their tax refund in a savings account or by purchasing a U.S. savings bond.
Advocacy: We worked with key partners on the passage of three pieces of state legislation. One law passed created a mandate requiring personal financial literacy being taught in all public schools from K-8 through mathematics courses. The other two pieces of legislation were on payday lending. They included notice and disclosure requirements for credit services organizations (CSOs) regarding charges and consumer borrowing and to the registration and regulation of CSOs.
Convening: We held our inaugural RAISE Texas Community Leadership meeting bringing together asset-building leaders from around the state to move the RAISE Texas agenda forward.
Testing Solutions: RAISE Texas held a video contest to encourage families to save for their children’s’ college education. Our motto was Savings Makes Individuals’ Lives Easier (SMILE) so RAISE Texas conducted a Save ‘n SMILE Family Video Contest. Our goal was to help Texas children and their families kick start college savings. Our Grand Prize Winner received a college savings deposit into the Texas Tuition Promise Fund on behalf of their child. The prize money allowed the winning family to save enough to purchase a year of tuition at most 2- year public colleges in Texas or to make a significant payment for the first semester at many of the Texas 4-year public colleges.
Convening: We held the RAISE Texas Learning Forum and Summit hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. One of the highlights was a new video, “Building a Savings Culture in Texas” which highlighted RAISE Texas community leaders and the work they are doing to grow the field. Over 140 organizations from all over Texas registered to take part in this event.
Sharing Lessons from the Field: RAISE Texas released a report on its work in rural communities titled, Increasing Economic Stability in Small Cities and Rural Communities, which discussed ways to support asset-building efforts in underserved small cities and rural markets in Texas by increasing access to financial mainstream products and programs. website.
Technical Assistance: RAISE Texas released a toolkit titled, How to Start a VITA Site in your Community: Bringing More Dollars into the Local Economy While Supporting Families, which provides the basic information of what VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) sites are, the basic steps for starting a VITA site and the key operational activities necessary to successfully operate a site.
Building Capacity: RAISE Texas launched OpportunityTexas a joint initiative between RAISE Texas and the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP, now Every Texan).
Convening: We held our third Action Summit “Building Financial Success” at the LBJ School of the University of Texas in Austin, with over 160 people attending.
Advocacy: RAISE Texas helped pass legislation to support asset-building activity in Texas, including bills supporting children’s savings accounts and community tax centers.
Technical Assistance: RAISE Texas began working with the Rio Grande Valley Multibank to create a local small dollar loan alternative. It is now known as the Community Loan Center and has expanded and grown into 17 locations across Texas and other states.
Convening: RAISE Texas held its second Action Summit at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, which brought in over 100 practitioners, government officials and funders to hear about asset building work in Texas.
Sharing Lessons from the Field: Based on feedback from our first summit and conversations held in 2008, RAISE Texas and its members developed four action campaigns with specific activities that were the focus of our statewide work. They included: Matched Savings (IDAs and Children’s Savings Accounts); Community Tax Centers and EITC; Alternative Small Dollar Consumer Loan Products; and Home Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention.
Building Capacity: RAISE Texas was chosen to partner with CFED (now called Prosperity Now) to develop our new website, which served as a template for other state coalitions looking to develop their own websites. Allowing asset-building organizations and state coalitions to have a web presence helped to expand the field and build capacity.
Testing Solutions: RAISE Texas did not wait long to begin to pilot asset-building programs and products to underserved populations. In 2009, RAISE Texas worked with five organizations located in rural communities around the state to get asset-building programs launched in those regions.
The beginning: RAISE Texas became the first independent 501(c) (3) state asset-building coalition in the country. At the time we had a staff of 2 and a network of about 55 organizations.
Convening: The first action summit under RAISE Texas was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Houston Branch. It was titled, Moving Texans Toward Financial Success, with over 150 people attending the first official event held by RAISE Texas.