Campaign for Working Families (CWF) is a 2022 Project Innovation grant recipient of $50,000 from NBC10, Telemundo62, and Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation. This funding will go towards their program for Advancing Equity through Youth Empowerment and Community Engagement.
CWF was created in 2003 with the goal of helping working families in the Greater Philadelphia region move up the economic ladder. For nearly two decades they have been committed to helping families and individuals achieve economic empowerment by providing free tax preparation, resource building, and asset development. This support and guidance allows low-income households to plan for financially secure futures. Last year they did 28,000 federal returns and this year they are close to 24,000 returns. They receive a huge volume of tax returns but have a small staff, so they had around 600 to 700 volunteers who go through IRS-certified training. Their goal is to get $50 million in refunds back to the community. They partner with other organizations like Philabundance and the IRS Tax Advocacy Division to ensure people can get the help they need and are aware of all the benefits they are eligible for. Some of these benefits include SNAP, LIHEAP, credit counseling, property tax rebates, and senior services.
Their services includes:
- Free Tax Preparation and Asset Building
- Mobile Tax Operation
- Assisted Self Tax-Preparation
- Financial Services and Savings Products
- Advocacy and Organizing
- Community Workshops.
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Their program for Advancing Equity through Youth Empowerment and Community Engagement started as a partnership with Martin Luther King High School. They worked with these students for four consecutive years, training them to run a tax site out of the school. Currently, they are working with Lincoln High School and continuing to train students to do taxes. The training time frame is from October to January and all the students become IRS certified. The students also have all their work quality-reviewed by an experienced staff member. Students walk away with customer service skills, digital technology skills, knowledge of tax law, and are able to bring this knowledge home to their families and their community, as well as into future careers. Last year they had 37 students participating and are hoping to double that amount for this year.
During the pandemic, CWF had to stop the programs from being run inside the schools; As a result, they switched to a virtual platform where community members could drop off their documents and be contacted once the return was completed, and also offered the ability to upload all their documents straight to the virtual platform themselves.
With the funding from this Project Innovation grant, CWF will be able to run these tax sites from inside the high schools again, and also expand into other high schools, getting this program off the ground and furthering their impact in the community. This grant will also allow them to now stipend the students which will offer them more motivation to get involved.