RAISE Texas Accomplishments
In 2008, 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.
The first action summit under RAISE Texas was held in April 2008 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Houston Branch. It was titled, Moving Texans Toward Financial Success, with over 150 people registered to attend the first official event held by RAISE Texas.
RAISE Texas helped pass legislation in 2009 to support asset-building activity in Texas including bills supporting children’s savings accounts and community tax centers.
In 2009 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.
In November 2009, 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 the work being done in Texas.
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.
In 2009 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.
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.
In March 2010, 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. This report is available on the Resources page of our website.
In July 2010, 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.
In December 2010 RAISE Texas launched OpportunityTexas a joint initiative between RAISE Texas and the Center for Public Policy Priorities.
Also, we held our now annual Action Summit, “Building Financial Success” at the LBJ School of the University of Texas in Austin. The variety of topics discussed and partnering with the LBJ School brought in a large crowd of over 160 people to hear about what is going on around the state and remarks from -Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner Leslie Pettijohn.
Starting in 2011, 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 helped to incentivize savings through gifts cards and expand free tax preparation to increase 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.
In 2011 we also 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 in regards to 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.
In June 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.
In 2011-12 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! In fact, 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 get off to a great start towards paying the first semester at many of the Texas 4-year public colleges.
In November 2011 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 from around the state about the work they are doing to grow the field. Over 140 organizations from all over Texas registered to take part in this event.
RAISE Texas launched the Child Support for College (CS4C) initiative, which combined the efforts of RAISE Texas, three local nonprofit financial coaching entities and the Texas Attorney General – Child Support Division (CSD), to encourage long-term economic success for families in the child support system by assisting custodial parents receiving child support in opening a college savings account to pay for their child’s future educational expenses and providing access to free financial coaches. This project was the first of its kind in the country and ran through 2013.
In October 2012 RAISE Texas held its annual training and summit, “Providing the Tools for Financial Stability” at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Houston Branch.
In November 2012, 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.
In 2013 RAISE Texas published Saving For College: The WHY, WHEN, AND HOW- A Guide of College Savings Products for Texans.
The Smart Saver Texans Program launched in the Amarillo Independent School District on January 10th, 2013. OpportunityTexas- 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- launched a pilot program to study the impact of in-school banking in conjunction with instruction on Texas’ new financial education standards with 4th graders in the Amarillo Independent School District. OpportunityTexas was a joint-initiative of RAISE Texas and the Center for Public Policy Priorities.
In 2013 RAISE Texas decided to take a comprehensive approach to the growing financial coaching field by defining financial coaching and providing groups with a common set of standards/core competencies to ensure high quality, successful programs throughout Texas. It has been cited in a number of national publications and presentations.
In January 2014, the Texas State Securities Board passed Rule 139.24, which allows financial coaches and financial counselors to assist families and individuals to complete applications for approved college savings programs and provide information on these savings programs to their clients, which is an important step to move college savings forward in Texas. This rule change was informed by RAISE Texas’ Child Support for College (CS4C) initiative and we played a major role in its passage.
In May 2014, RAISE Texas hosted its 2014 RAISE Texas Summit and Trainings in San Antonio, titled “Creating Financial Capability Opportunities for all Texans". It was co-hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. This three day event included two financial coaching trainings for organizations to train their financial coaches at a discounted rate, a workshop on savings initiatives, a workshop on small dollar loan alternatives, and a day-long summit to engage our network in our current asset-building work and upcoming pilot activities. Over 130 people from across Texas attended the summit and pre-summit activities.
In 2014-2015 RAISE Texas and CPPP worked together to provide in-depth technical assistance to a local Texas United Way to develop and conduct a pilot with two employers in Austin to evaluate savings through the workplace via payroll-deduction. An official evaluationwas conducted on the pilot to look at ways to scale this workplace platform and make policy recommendations. The evaluation has been helpful in moving other savings pilot programs forward.
In the 2015 Texas legislative session, we were a key partner in the passage of state legislation that mandated financial education in grades K-8 in Texas schools to “facilitate the planning and saving for higher education and facilitate personal financial literacy instruction”. RAISE Texas and partners have utilized this mandatory financial education as a tool to implementing financial capability programs into the schools in Texas.
In 2015-2016 RAISE Texas and our partners conducted two pilot feasibility studies in two Independent School Districts (ISDs) in the greater Dallas and Austin areas to expand children’s savings for college opportunities tied to the state’s mandated financial education curriculum. One worked with kindergarten students and the other with 4th grade students. Research findings are helping us with launching new CSAs and in putting together Texas-based recommendations that we shared to advance our work in 2018.
In May 2016 the RAISE Texas Summit and workshops “Building Financial Success for Texans: In Schools, The Workplace and Our Communities” was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. This summit and workshops focused on the success and the future work being done to implement different asset-building products and programs into the schools and the workplace. Over 200 people attended the summit and workshops over the two-day event.
In the 2017 Texas legislative session, we were a key partner in the passage of state legislation to allow credit unions and banks to offer prize-linked savings. With the passage of this bill and its companion bill a constitutional amendment on this year’s fall ballot, it now gives banks and credit unions the ability to offer chances to win cash prizes for Texans who are making deposits into a savings account.
RAISE Texas and CPPP released a report on Workplace Financial Wellness Programs showing that too many Texas workers are living in financial insecurity. Workplace financial wellness programs – which help workers manage their finances through programs like employer-based lending programs and automatic savings opportunities – can play an important role in opening up more doors for Texas workers to become more financially secure and could help reduce the state’s high rate of financial insecurity. The report highlights several recommended ways that employers can provide financial empowerment opportunities to employees. RAISE Texas began to work hard to increase college savings opportunities for Texas kids. Staff provided technical assistance, leadership and guidance on three CSA programs in different parts of the state. Each program has a different model and can provide a framework for other organizations, schools and cities in Texas to replicate the programs in their communities. In order to advance the offering of products and services in the workplace, RAISE Texas and its partners conducted a research pilot in two locations to test different marketing approaches to encourage the delivery of financial coaching services for employees as part of a menu of financial wellness benefits through employers. Find the report on our resources page.
In 2018 we celebrated 10 Years of RAISE Texas! Ten years later we still have a humble staff of two, but our network has grown to over 2,000 organizations, institutions and individuals that want to make Texas a place to live where everyone can find their American dream! We are so proud of the hard work of our partners, friends and colleagues across the state and look forward to continuing to RAISE Texas with ALL OF YOU!