Daily Point of Light # 3093 Dec 13, 2005

The United Way of Palm Beach County is an integral part of the Boynton Beach, Florida community. In collaboration with numerous organizations the United Way developed the Prosperity Campaign of Palm Beach County in June of 2003 to help low-income working residents move toward greater economic stability. The first initiative was to educate the public on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) and open over 30 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) sites in the county. The response was incredible, and they recruited in excess of 100 volunteers and prepared more than 4,000 returns. This was a definite increase in the 660 returns that had been prepared the year prior. In 2005, 40 VITA sites were operational with more than 240 volunteers and 6,500 returns prepared. This effort in 2005 has entitled low-income workers to 11 million in tax refunds with approximately 5 million from the EIC.

In January 2005, the Prosperity Campaign expanded their services and opened three year round Prosperity Center to offer residents one-stop services. These services include a matched-savings program for homeownership called the Individual Development Accounts (IDA), help in resolving credit problems, money management assistance, benefits assistance and access, and education and job assistance. Each of the three Prosperity Centers offer year round free tax preparation.

Since the Prosperity Center opened in January 2005, 96 households have opened IDA savings accounts for homeownership, 211 have received credit counseling services, 185 have attended money management workshops and 428 have been counseled on an educational/vocational plan, and received assistance with financial aid forms. The first IDA home has already gone to closing for the Prosperity Center.

The dedication and commitment to low-income families in Palm Beach County and the hundreds of volunteers who have made the Prosperity Campaign a huge success is because of the United Way of Palm Beach County and their collaborative approach they adopted. The United Way is actively aiding families so they can achieve greater economic stability, higher earnings and home ownership.