Individual Development Accounts Build Assets and Enrich Lives
Since 2003, WESST’s Individual Development Account (IDA) program has helped low-income individuals build assets such as a home, a small business, or higher education. The program requires participants to complete intensive financial literacy education prior to implementing a savings program with matching funds provided by WESST and their partners.
Participants complete a ten-week money management course that focuses on budgeting, saving, and credit. After successful completion of the money management training, participants open a savings account to which they contribute for a period of six months to two years. Participants’ contributions are matched by WESST at various rates that are dependent upon funding. Over the last several years, match rates have ranged from 4:1 to 8:1, providing participants with $2,500 to $4,500 in total savings ($500 participant savings and $2,000 to $4,000 from the WESST match). The use of these matched savings is restricted to high-return investments: buying a home as a first time home-buyer, paying for post-secondary education, or investing in a new or established business.
Since 2003, WESST’s IDA Program has achieved the following results:
- 781 of low-income New Mexicans residents completed the personal financial literacy training.
- 692 individuals opened their own IDA savings account.
- 509 reached their savings goal and purchased their “asset.”
- 52% of asset purchases were for small business; 32% for higher education; and 16% were for down payments on a first-time home.
IDAs Teens To Adults
Currently, WESST is working with adults in the Albuquerque area providing IDA programming and accounts through our partnership and support from the Assets for Independence Program, Sandia National Laboratories, Presbyterian, Los Alamos National Bank, Southwest Capital Bank, Bank of the West and Simon Scholars.
For more information, and to see if you might be able to participate in WESST’s IDA program, please complete the IDA Financial Literacy Inquiry form or contact Zoe Otero-Martinez for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or (505) 246-6945.