Baylor University regularly offers a class in philanthropy. Students study area non-profits and evaluate the programs and services being offered. They are taught to think critically about the opportunities present in the community and the ways in which local organizations are striving to meet needs. Students learn about fundraising and responsibly stewarding those funds in ways that benefit the community.

Baylor’s “Solid Gold Neighbor” initiative seeks to acts as a connecting point between the University and its community. In partnership with the philanthropy class, the Solid Gold Neighbor initiative has issued a call for grants from local organizations. NeighborWorks Waco is proud to participate in this way with local education and with our longtime neighbor, Baylor.

For the purposes of this grant, we have proposed expanding our Project S.A.V.E.R. program, which serves local families struggling with no or low credit. Historically, we have conducted this program in partnership with First National Bank of Central Texas, though we plan to partner with more financial institutions in the future.

Through the partnership, qualifying NeighborWorks Waco clients can receive a $300 loan from the bank. During the nine-month repayment period, clients who responsibly repay the loan on time have seen their credit rise more than 100 points! Those who successfully repay without late or missing payments are also rewarded, by NeighborWorks Waco, with $200!

Our hope is that those families desiring to become homeowners but struggling with credit will dedicate nine months to improving their credit, and utilize their improved financial situation to achieve their dream of homeownership. Clients may use their funds to open savings accounts, pay off debt, obtain secured credit cards, or save for a down payment on their dream home.

Our recent grant proposal submitted to the Baylor Philanthropy class and the Solid Gold Neighbor initiative would expand this program a great deal. We are asking for $25,000 to expand this program by adding 75 participants slots and to increase the award amount from $200 to $300 per family. Good credit is essential to financial health and increasing the wealth of struggling families.

The goals of NeighborWorks Waco, and Project S.A.V.E.R. in particular, align well with those of the Solid Gold Neighbor initiative and we are hopeful that we will receive a portion of funds from those students participating in this year’s philanthropy class. We believe in this program so fully that we plan to continue to seek its expansion, regardless what the outcome of this particular grant proposal is. If you are aware of alternative funding opportunities, please inform NeighborWorks Waco staff so that we may decide how best to pursue opportunities necessary for improving our local community.