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IDA Participants Start New Year with Dollars – and Sense

December 22, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. - About 1,500 Oregonians already have their goals in sight for the New Year. They are saving money for a house or vehicle, to go to college or start a small business. The amount they're able to save may be small, but it is tripled with matching money when they complete the Oregon Individual Development Account Initiative (IDA) program.

IDA is for lower-income Oregon residents, and Kathy Turner, who administers the program at Portland's Neighborhood Partnerships, says it requires a lot of self-discipline.

"They have to be willing to want to save - usually, about $25 a month - to go through financial education and make a budget and really commit to that. They have to be willing to learn about the asset they're saving for."

Turner says 65 percent of IDA participants reach their savings goals, and even those who don't say what they learn in the program helps them better manage their money.

At Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, school President Dr. Joe Olson says a number of students have used IDA to save for tuition.

"It's very important for people to be able to break into that middle class. Programs like the IDA serve as a further incentive for people to try and get ahead. If they save some money on their own, that's matched by the program. For every dollar they put in, they're getting a strong return on their investment."

For donors, the IDA Initiative offers a 75 percent Oregon tax credit. Most of the donation money is used to make the financial matches, and some is used to obtain the training necessary to help people reach specific goals. Either way, Turner says it's a unique investment in Oregon.

"They're really helping people with financial skills and giving them the step up that's going to affect them for the rest of their lives - to get an education, to buy a home or to start a business - as well as help the Oregon economy."

Tax credits for 2011 donations are available through the end of the year.

More information about the Oregon IDA Initiative is online at http://ida.neighborhoodpartnerships.org or www.oregon.gov/OHCS/PPR_AssetBuilding.shtml.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR