United Way of Greater St. Louis and Emerson are creating an Individual Development Account (IDA) program for families in north St. Louis County, United Way announced June 28. The program is part of an effort to improve the financial stability of low-income families in the St. Louis region.
St. Louis-based Emerson will commit $200,000 to the North County Individual Development Account Program. The IDA is designed to provide matched savings accounts for low- to moderate-income working families to help them build wealth through homeownership, small business development or post-secondary education.
Michael Sherraden, director of the Center for Social Development, pioneered the concept of IDAs, based on his research demonstrating that accumulation of even modest assets can play a significant role in families’ ability to achieve important goals for long-term well-being. IDAs have been adopted in federal and state legislation in the United States and in other countries. An IDA program known as “Hope Development Accounts” in Seoul, South Korea, won a United Nations Public Service Award in 2010.
“United Way’s IDA program has a long-standing history of helping people build wealth for a more secure financial future,” Pat Sly, executive vice president at Emerson, said in United Way’s press release, “and Emerson is proud to provide investments to create opportunities for families in need.”
To date, United Way has invested more than $3.7 million from grants and donations for the IDA savings match, helping more than 2,500 people save more than $1.7 million through the program, the nonprofit organization reports.
Emerson’s North County IDA will aim to help families improve their credit scores, build wealth and ultimately strengthen the whole community, according to the press release. The program will begin accepting applicants and launch in the fall.