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Building Economic Strength Together (BEST) Project
Jacksonville, Florida
 

Photo of BEST Participants and NDI StaffThe BEST Project was implemented as a pilot project in Jacksonville, Florida in 2009. Designed to create a training environment where individuals learned from one another about financial education and asset building opportunities, the BEST Project utilizes the interactive and participatory learning model developed by Everyday Democracy with a customized curriculum based on the U.S. Treasury President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy Standards.

BEST introduced individuals to local experts and resources pertaining to the needs of the group; for example, individuals received information directly from the Internal Revenue Service on local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Sites and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The mission of the Building Economic Strength Together (BEST) Project was to link Jacksonville's (seven county) network of providers, veterans with disabilities and students with intellectual disabilities to existing financial and tax services, business start-up, financial planning, credit/debt counseling programs and employment networks.

To support this mission, the BEST Project included the following objectives:

  • Increase awareness and use of available asset building tools including a relationship with a financial institution for people with disabilities. (Individual Outcome)
  • Create a system change within the financial and community-based organizations that promotes inclusion and access for customers with disabilities. (System Outcome)
  • Adopt the innovative interactive model being piloted that relies on community experts and skilled based volunteers to connect individuals and systems to networks in the community for customers with and without disabilities. (Program Development)

The BEST Project selected three target groups to offer this program to:

  1. Students with intellectual disabilities (ages 18 - 22) participating in the University of North Florida pilot where the students audit two courses and participate in campus life. 21 students participated in the six-month (12 hour) course on asset building.

  2. Veterans with disabilities attending the Wounded Warrior Project in Jacksonville, Florida. 20 Warriors received a six-month (12 hour) course on asset building. NDI surveyed the warriors and designed the course content to meet their needs and connect them to services and potential employers.

  3. Community Providers working with customers with disabilities and other low-income individuals. Over 25 agencies met monthly over six months to learn about community-based services that are providing tax and financial services for low-income individuals and how to best connect their customers to this work.

 


For more information, please contact:

Michael Roush, mroush@ndi-inc.org
 
Johnette Hartnett, jhartnett@ndi-inc.org