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TCUF: Opportunity Savings Project Helping Texans Develop Better Savings Habits
Thursday, April 11, 2013 7:00 AM

Through the Opportunity Savings Project, the Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) with the participation of two Texas credit unions is helping Texas families build a more solid financial foundation.

Opportunity Texas is a joint initiative of the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) and RAISE Texas.  Through this joint initiative, two tax-time savings programs are available, including the Opportunity Savings Project—operated in partnership with TCUF.

According to Staci Zale, TCUF associate director, Raise Texas and Opportunity Texas gave a $10,000 grant for the Opportunity Savings Project and TCUF matched that grant, bringing the total to $20,000.  TCUF is collaborating with Border FCU in Del Rio and Coastal Community CU in Galveston on the Opportunity Savings Project.  Both credit unions participate in the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

The VITA program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income individuals who cannot prepare their own tax returns.  According to the IRS, there are 514 VITA sites in Texas, as the agency continues to expand its partnerships with nonprofit and community organizations performing vital tax preparation services for low-income and elderly taxpayers.

The Opportunity Savings Project is similar to an individual development account, where an individual of modest means would set a savings goal that would be matched if they met their goal.  The Opportunity Savings Project is reportedly one of the largest active savings projects in Texas this tax season.

TCUF is offering a matched savings account to filers at VITA sites operated by Border FCU in Del Rio and Coastal Community CU in Galveston.  Filers at the credit unions’ VITA sites are encouraged to open and deposit a portion of their refund into their credit union savings account and build savings in the account over a one year period. Just for signing up, filers receive between a $25-50 gift card.

Next January, if the participant has a higher balance in their account than their initial deposit, they will receive a 1:1 match on their net savings up to $100.

“The goal of this initiative is simply to encourage better savings habits,” says Zale.  “By getting into the habit of saving a little bit each month, consumers will be in a better financial position to manage unexpected expenses.”

The Opportunity Savings Project was highlighted on the Opportunity Texas blog and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ web site.