: The Financial Empowerment Zone (FEZ)
Click here to make an appointment to have your taxes done for FREE!
Upcoming Events | 2012 FEZ Report to the Community
United Way of Passaic County's Financial Empowerment Zone (FEZ) helps
individuals and families attain and preserve assets, become more
financially stable, and achieve long-term economic independence.
FEZ provide free tax preparation services, case management help with enrollment in income supports and financial literacy workshops to increase the financial stability among lower-income working families in Passaic County.
FEZ is working to reach unbanked households in Paterson and the surrounding communities as many of our residents use alternative financial service providers (AFSPs) - check cashing outlets, payday lenders, pawnshops, money transmittors, etc - to conduct some of their financial transactions. Families cannot achieve financial stability unless they have enough
income to pay for today’s necessities and save for the future. Prolonged
poverty leads to health concerns, to disruptions in housing, and family
Our goal is to increase the number of families who are able to meet their basic needs and increase their financial stability.
Services: FINANCIAL AID U
The Financial Aid U program assists
low-income and first generation college students and their families in
identifying and accessing financial aid resources for post-secondary education.
In the program’s first year United Way
is working with Paterson Public Schools, and the Guidance Department in
particular, to deliver the services to Paterson students. “Access to financial aid is critical for our
youth, but unfortunately many of our high school students ‘convince’ themselves
out of college because of the complexity of financial aid,” said CEO Yvonne Zuidema.
“Financial Aid U will advise high school students on how to apply for the
financial resources they need to achieve their dreams of higher education,”
In addition to providing FAFSA
filing assistance, Financial Aid U offers financial education workshops on a
variety of essential topics related to college applications and budgeting for
Aid U is a national effort of the National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) and
provides assistance with the completion of the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms along with
financial education. UWPC is one of eight organizations nationwide chosen to implement
this program because of extensive experience providing tax preparation and
financial education services in their local community.
Click here to register to become a FAU volunteer.
Services: FREE FINANCIAL AND CREDIT COUNSELING SERVICES
Free Financial and Credit Counseling Services is the third program to
be offered by the Financial Empowerment Zone (FEZ). United Way has contracted with non-profit
agency Newark Now to provide an accredited credit counselor onsite one day a
week at the UWPC Center City Mall location.
This new service addresses the need for face-to-face credit counseling
services, of which there were previously none available in Passaic County.
The service will offer one-on-one
financial coaching, address credit and debt issues, and create personal action
plans and budgets. The outcomes will include increased credit scores, reduced
interest payments, increased savings and the establishment of main stream bank
WHY A FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT ZONE?
Stagnany incomes, increases in the cost of living and high levels of unemployment have increase the financial instability of thousands of residents in Passaic County. With 83,000 people living below the Federal poverty level, Passaic County, ranks first in New Jersey in both numbers and percentages (17.2%) of households living in poverty. Over a quarter of all children in our county live below the poverty threshold.
An additional 30% do not earn enough to be considered self-sufficient - in all, almost half of Passaic County households are struggling. New Jersey and Federal budget cuts have decreased funding for health and human service programs that have traditionally provided a safety net for our Passaic County neighbors in these hard times.
As part of United Way of Morris County's mission to
advance the common good of our communities, they created a task force to better understand the families and individuals living and
working in Morris County who are struggling to make ends meet. This
population was brought to life as ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.
United Way's volunteer task force gathered data about ALICE so that we
can explore the challenges preventing this population from attaining
financial independence. A companion piece ALICE Report in PAssaic County is below.
ALICE Report for Passaic County
Latest News (Press release and media coverage)