Building Partnerships Through the Matched Savings Program

October 27, 2014
By Steve Shepelwich, Senior Community Development Advisor


Tulsa program helps people find and keep jobs by encouraging savings.

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Goodwill Tulsa works hard to find jobs for people who face employment barriers. The work doesn’t stop there, however. A person still needs support after gaining employment. A new employee faces many issues in maintaining a job. Through its program, TulsaWORKS, Goodwill Tulsa provides training and services to address these issues.

For example, without a small cash cushion, a simple car repair can turn into a missed day of work. In a recent national economic well-being survey only 48 percent of respondents said that they would completely cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money. Having an emergency fund provides a critical safety net for many workers. 

TulsaWORKS developed a matched savings program to help clients build an emergency reserve and develop a habit of saving. The program is simple: a client agrees to participate in a financial education program, open a savings account and make regular deposits. TulsaWORKS provides an initial $50 match to help meet any minimum balance requirements of an account, and then matches the client’s additional savings one-to-one up to an additional $450 over a 12-month period. In the end, the client has $1,000 in savings.

TulsaWORKS faced several hurdles when starting the program, such as finding partners to support both the training and the financial match.

TulsaWORKS turned to the Kansas City Fed's Investment Connection Online for help. Investment Connection Online is a web-based platform that connects organizations that have Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) eligible proposals—in need of a grant, loan or investment with financial institutions, corporate enterprises and community foundations. In general, a proposal must be for a community or economic development program that addresses the needs of low- to moderate-income individuals or geographies.

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Since its inception in 2011, Investment Connection has connected community organizations with more than $24 million in funding within the Tenth Federal Reserve District, which includes Colorado, Kansas, western Missouri, Nebraska, northern New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.

Dawne Stafford, president of Security Bank in Tulsa, became aware of Investment Connection Online through a referral by a Federal Reserve examiner. She was able to quickly use the site to identify proposals in the Tulsa area. The TulsaWORKS program stood outf because of the program’s size, the need it was addressing and its connection to banking services.

Based on this connection, TulsaWORKS arranged a tour of Goodwill Tulsa’s programs and facilities.

"This was an educational opportunity to learn about a program in my community that I knew very little about,” Stafford said. “Once I heard their story I knew it was a fit."

TulsaWORKS and Security Bank developed a partnership that works for both organizations. Security Bank has pledged $15,000 to match the savings of 30 program participants. In addition, the bank offered program clients access to a savings account.

Security Bank also involves their staff in delivering financial education training that equips program clients with new skills.

Sabrina Ware, Director of TulsaWORKS, said “Tulsa is about partnerships, and Investment Connection has provided a new way of building relationships that serve our community.”

This is TulsaWorks first partnership that directly leveraged opportunities created by the CRA.

Stafford summarized the intent of Investment Connection best: “Investment Connection Online has provided a useful tool to identify a program in our backyard that is CRA eligible, addresses the interests of our bank, and serves the needs of our community.”

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Learn more about Investment Connection.