Make CSAs Work For Your Community


CSAfamilyatscreenThe Oregon Asset Building Coalition is still hard at work finalizing the details of a Children’s Savings Account platform for Oregon. It’s clear to us that the success of Children’s Savings in Oregon will depend on community-based organizations across the state. They hold the trust of the communities they serve.

We’ve heard this from our focus group participants – they are more likely to engage with a program through an organization they already know and trust. Word-of-mouth referrals are really powerful in building relationships. Research done by our national partner, EARN, confirms this idea – the most effective way to engage program participants is through contact with trusted partners.

So we asked our Steering Committee, “how will you leverage the trust your communities have in you to make sure that families participate in the Oregon CSA? And, vice versa, how will you leverage the CSA to build on current programming or create new opportunities for your community members?“ Ideas generated by Carlos Garcia with Hacienda CDC and Stephanie Sampedro from Innovative Changes are worth highlighting.

Carlos is excited to imagine the opportunities Hacienda will have to make sure that their participants know about and access the CSA.

  • Hacienda’s Youth and Family Services Programs – including Portland Niños, Expresiones and Avanzamos will provide particularly good opportunities for Hacienda to talk up the CSA to families who are eager for their children to have opportunity to reach their potential.
  • The CSA could be used to incentivize participation in the youth programming Hacienda’s partner, OAME, the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs, provides. Both OAME and the CSA are focused on helping young people think about and take action toward their futures.
  • Hacienda might even establish a lending circle to help families save for their first CSA deposit!

Like Carlos, Stephanie thought about opportunities Innovative Changes will have to make sure whoever walks through the door knows about the CSA. She also thought about how to help get money into clients’ CSA accounts.

  • An incentive deposit in a client’s CSA could be triggered by them reaching one of their learning goals, for example their completion of a variety of different programs – the Credit Builder Loan, financial education or regularly meeting with a financial coach.
  • Participants in the women’s financial empowerment groups currently receive a savings match – that match could be directed toward their child’s CSA.
  • Innovative Changes tax-time partnership with CASH Oregon could provide an opportunity for tax filers to save some of their return in their CSA.

Community-based organizations are a vital piece of the future Oregon CSA. We hope to hear from many more of you about  how you plan to use the CSA to engage and support your community members.

What will your community or organization do with the Oregon CSA? Contact Jill Winsor to share your ideas.

Posted in Asset Building, Children's Savings Accounts.