Money Matters message: Power through financial independence

Joel Rivera

"Financial freedom my only hope," is more than just a line from a recent Jay-Z track. It's the message coming from Joel Rivera, the Program Director at the Connecticut Association for Human Services, and one of the people coming to the Money Matters Expo on Saturday, Sept. 16.

(Here is the schedule of speakers and their topics.) 

Accompanying Rivera is CAHS's Youth Money School VISTA Coordinator, Hugh McCalla, who seized on Jay-Z's quote, which is directed at young minorities who need to take care with their money.

Rivera's focus in his daily job is addressing systemic poverty, focusing on systems change, organizational behavior, and the creation of new programs.

At the Money Matters Expo, Rivera will introduce visitors to CAHS’ Connecticut Money School (CMS) and Youth Money School (YMS) program. Both provide ways for low-to-moderate income Connecticut residents to achieve financial empowerment through education, goal setting, and individual support.

Jay-Z: Financial freedom my only hope

This free expo couldn't be at a better setting. Housatonic Community College, a GBLN Pa'lante Partner, has a history of offering ethnic and economic minorities a chance at attaining a higher education and economic independence.

CMS provides free financial education and one-to-one financial coaching for individuals, families, youth and seniors in Connecticut.

Rivera will also offer one-on-one financial coaching. Trained volunteers meet with clients who identify their financial goals, such as improving credit, reducing debt, or saving to purchase a home.  CAHS provides the “Your Money, Your Goals” toolkit to volunteer financial coaches.

Also to be discussed:

Access to benefits: EarnBenefits Online (EBO): A web-based software that allows partner staff to screen households for 15 supports, including SNAP (food stamps), HUSKY health insurance, child care subsidies, etc. If eligible, staff submit applications, and track whether the client receives benefits through a data exchange.  (Housatonic Community College has this software)

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA): An IRS-sponsored program, provides free tax preparation and helps people receive the state and federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other refunds. The EITC rewards low-wage work and is the single most effective policy lifting families out of poverty. Tax time is also ideal to engage people in asset-building programs, including financial education, credit check-ups, and savings.

About Joel Rivera

Rivera has over 18 years of work experience developing effective partnerships with state, community agencies and personnel and over 10 years of direct experience working with people with disabilities, Latino, African-American and LGBT communities.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Bradford College in 1998,  Rivera started his career in workforce development that same year in the Bronx, Harlem and Brooklyn, where he worked in Welfare to Work programs with economically disadvantaged communities helping them to achieve self-sufficiency.

Rivera also earned a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership degree from Mercy College in 2004.

About CAHS

The Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS) changes the lives of low-income children and families across Connecticut by pioneering pathways from poverty to opportunity and from financial insecurity to capability and success.

CAHS partners with more than 100 policy and program organizations statewide, including fellow nonprofit advocates and trusted community-based service providers. They develop and share new knowledge, advocate for change, build networks, and mobilize coalitions that empower thousands of Connecticut residents every year with the confidence, support, and tools they need to map their journeys forward.

Their goal is, as it has been since 1910, nothing short of the elimination of poverty in Connecticut.

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