Individual Development Accounts are special matched savings accounts that help low income families establish a pattern of regular savings toward the purchase of productive lifelong assets.
According to officials at United Way of Carbon and Emery counties, the IDA accounts will be available to low income families in the Castle Valley area for the first time this winter.
Carbon County Economic Development director Delynn Fielding reported that the AAA Fair Credit Foundation has partnered with the business expansion and retention project, Utah State University, the United Way, the division of workforce services, the College of Eastern Utah small business development center and Carbon economic development to bring a "life changing program" to the area.
"This partnership will provide all the tools necessary for low income individuals to save and make productive use of the money in their accounts," said Fielding.
The classes starting at the end of the month promise qualifying individuals a three to one match on all monies saved, with the stipulation that the funds be used to obtain a post-secondary education, purchase a first home or start a small business.
"The promising thing about a small business start up is that the fact that our BEAR program and the small business development center will have the opportunity to mentor someone's business idea from the ground up and provide the skills necessary to make that business succeed," said Fielding.
According to the IDA website, saving money for future needs can be difficult for individuals and families struggling to keep up with current bills.
The IDA program is an important tool that helps members progress toward financial stability and self-sufficiency.
The Utah Individual Development Account Network and the match program is open to individuals or families who meet the established criteria.
The criteria specifies that eligible program applicants:
Must live in Utah.
Must be at least 18 years of age.
Must currently earn some level of income.
Applicants cannot have more than $10,000 in net assets excluding one motor vehicle and one house.
The requirements for individuals participating in the IDA program include:
Making regular monthly deposits between $15 and $62.50.
Taking part in the program for a minimum of one year and a maximum of 36 months.
Attending a personal finance and money management workshop series.
Completing asset specific training.
The savings match is a promise to supplement an IDA participant's savings deposits at a three to one rate.
For every dollar saved, another three dollars will be added to the participant's total account balance.
According to information provided by Ethan Migliori and Angela Crowther at the small business development center, most people need more than cash to become successful homeowners, entrepreneurs or college or vocational school students.
For this reason, participants in the IDA network are required to attend eight to 10 hours of personal finance and money management training as well as a special asset-specific preparation program.
The workshops are designed to help participants acquire or polish their personal and financial skills that are essential for long-term success.
According to the IDA matched savings program representatives, one success story comes in the form of an unidentified 29-year-old single mother with two daughters.
The single mother is employed full-time and is working toward finishing the courses required to complete her college education.
The woman joined the IDA program because she wanted the opportunity to develop a financial strategy for herself as well as set an example for her two daughters.
The single mother decided to use her savings toward the purchase of the family's first home.
She received financial management training from the USU Extension Service and completed homeownership training through Habitat for Humanity.
The success stories related on the IDA website continue for pages.
"These saving accounts help individuals achieve the American dream. They have the opportunity to receive assistance buying their first home, finishing their education or starting their own business," said Fielding. "We here at Carbon economic development are proud to be part of such a beneficial program."
Carbon and Emery County residents interested in joining the IDA network may contact Kate Alleman at 637-8911 for additional information.