Innovative Nonprofit Programs Help Low-Income People Build Their Savings

Creative new efforts are drawing grant-making support but are seeking ways to vastly expand reach

Innovative Nonprofits Help Poor People Build Their Savings 1

sara peet photography

Mission Asset Fund is formalizing “lending circles,” long used by immigrants, to help participants take control of their finances and build a credit history.

Ashana Ward has made a lot of changes lately. The Head Start teacher has crafted a budget, cut back on spending, and is looking for a better paying job. The changes are all in service to a big goal: to buy her own home.

She’s enlisted her two children, ages 10 and 13, to help make her dream come true. She and the kids are depositing their spare change in an empty water-cooler jug to save toward the down payment.

“They’re contributing to it,” Ms. Ward