By: Kian Hagerman
Students looking for assistance have many avenues available to them, but one potential source of funding to consider are Individual Development Accounts.
IDAs are instruments provided to low income individuals and families that assist in building assets, by various sources matching funds of said individuals to meet a specific goal amount.
IDAs are typically organized by local nonprofit organizations called IDA program sponsors, along with financial institutions.
One such organization that provides IDAs is A New Leaf, a nonprofit social service agency, which through the program MesaCAN, matches funds if one applies for an IDA with them.
“We apply for a grant, and then we match it 3 to 1,” said director of community services, Kathy DiNolfi.
For every $1 deposited, MesaCAN matches $1.50, with federal grant money matching another $1.50; after a minimum of six months of depositing at least $25 each month, one can access the funds accrued.
According to DiNolfi, the funds can be used for housing, school expenses and starting a business.
“There is no upper limit, but we can only match $4,000,” DiNolfi said. “That’s the max you can do.”
Those seeking to enroll in an IDA, program with MesaCAN are also required to take a financial literacy class, which can educate one on how to earn and manage money as well as how to make sound investment decisions.
“When we enroll them in the program, we tell them they have to take them within six months of enrolling,” DiNolfi said. “They are offered one Saturday a month.”
According to DiNolfi, to have an IDA one must meet federal poverty guidelines for low to moderate income as set by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
IDAs are also provided to refugees, according to the HSS.
“We’re serving people. We help people with educational access, employment; anyone experiencing some kind of crisis or poverty situation,” DiNolfi said.
A New Leaf also provides assistance to those in crisis with shelters for homeless families with children, as well as victims of domestic violence.
For those involved in court cases involving domestic violence, A New Leaf also offers the services of court advocates for victims.
Those interested can volunteer, as well as intern to fulfill degree requirements for degrees in fields such as social services, according to DiNolfi.
“Primarily social services, we help with social service internships,” DiNolfi said.
For information about how to enroll in the IDA program, call (480) 833-9200, and for information on volunteering and internships, call the development department at (480) 464-4648.