In July of 2019 New Ventures Maine and Four Directions Development Corporation (FDDC) met to discuss ways that we could partner to increase the participation rates for Maine Native Americans in matched savings programs that help low income individuals and families build savings for unexpected expenses and for future goals. Since Four Directions had been wanting to be involved in the financing of a matched savings program for tribal members, New Ventures had a number of existing matched savings programs, and our two organizations were partnering on other projects including CA$H Maine, working together to make this happen seemed like a natural fit.
After a number of discussions about the needs of tribal members and current barriers to participation in other programs the Wabanaki Matched Savings Program was established. The Wabanaki Matched Savings enables income eligible Native Americans, spouses, and descendants to have matched savings that will be used for emergencies, down payments, or unexpected expenses. Account holders receive a two to one match to their savings of $300; $300 from a grant to New Ventures Maine from the John T. Gorman Foundation and $300 from funds from Four Directions. Financial education is being provided through NVME’s My Money Works class or through financial coaching with FDDC. “You never know when something is going to go wrong. Encouraging savings is all about financial security and we appreciate the ability to support our Wabanaki people and their families during financial challenges that are outside of their control,” says Susan Hammond, Executive Director, FDDC. We received our first applicant in December and in August she used some of her savings and match to pay for a needed car repair. We are proud of this partnership and honored to play a part in helping reduce the wealth equity gap for the indigenous people of Maine.