Thursday, July 30, 2009

New initiative to help the poor in the San Francisco Bay area

A San Francisco Bay area charity has announced more money to go into programs to help the poor in the are. The Marin Community Foundation announced a five year, 15 million dollar funding for various programs. Programs include a savings program that will match the money people save. Other programs include job training skills and micro-enterprise start-ups.

From the Marin Independent Journal, reporter Richard Halstead talks to the foundation about the efforts.

"Through this new initiative," said foundation President Thomas Peters, "we'll fund efforts to help people learn new job skills, understand personal finances, benefit from financial services that meet their needs, receive support to start their own business and avoid economic crises."

Peters said Marin's high cost of living makes it difficult for the working poor to move out of poverty. According to the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, there are nearly 23,000 families in Marin who have trouble covering such basic needs as housing, food and health care.

"A parent with two children needs an annual income of $68,000 to be regarded as fully self-sufficient," Peter said. "But since that would require the earnings equivalent of working four minimum-wage jobs, many Marin families can't reach that goal."

Peters said the foundation will spend about $3 million per year on the effort. It has already awarded $600,000 in grants to two San Francisco-based nonprofits.

Earned Assets Resource Network, which helps low-income families establish savings accounts by matching families' personal contributions with philanthropic and federal government funds, will receive a one-year, $350,000 grant from the foundation, Peters said.

Women's Initiative for Self Employment, which provides low-income women with training and ongoing support to start their own businesses, will receive a one-year $250,000 grant. WISE has a Novato training office.

"These are the kinds of efforts that help families become more stable and economically secure for the long term," Peters said.

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