PINE BLUFF, AR -More than $1 million has been accrued in special savings accounts by low-income families across the state in their effort to improve their economic situation by building personal assets. The special matched savings accounts are called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). “With our participants’ personal savings combined with the three-to-one dollar match made by third party funders, our IDA accounts have accrued more than $1 million dollars,” says Southern Good Faith Fund President Angela Duran.

Southern Good Faith Fund was one of the first organizations in Arkansas to offer an IDA program and has been a leader in the field, helping lift hundreds of low-income families out of poverty and into the middle class. Currently over 300 low-income families have an IDA account with Southern Good Faith Fund and are saving toward their dream of buying a home, making home improvements, attaining post-secondary education, or starting a small business.

What is an IDA?
Individual Development Accounts are matched savings accounts that help people escape poverty. They require participants to invest some of their own money, learn financial skills, and build assets in things that increase in value like a home, a business or a college education. “These accounts are not a hand out or free money,” explains Duran. “These accounts are designed to help lower-income families build assets and start them on a path to financial security.”

Southern Good Faith Fund participants must save regularly and deposit at least $20 each month into a savings account. Participants must also complete a series of financial education courses covering topics such as money management, credit management, and financial services. Once a participant has reached their saving goal, usually over a period of up to two to three years, their savings is matched $3 for every $1 they have saved to a maximum of $2,000 for an individual or $4,000 for a household.

The power and potential of Southern Good Faith Fund’s IDAs:

Since 1999, 340 participants have improved their economic situation by working, saving, and purchasing a significant asset of buying a home, making home improvements, attaining post-secondary education, or starting a small business.

Current and past participants have saved $329,924 in IDAs, leveraging $966,045 in matched savings, totaling $1,295,969 invested into the lives of lower-income families and into the Arkansas economy.

  • Since 1999, 340 participants have improved their economic situation by working, saving, and purchasing a significant asset of buying a home, making home improvements, attaining post-secondary education, or starting a small business.
  • Current and past participants have saved $329,924 in IDAs, leveraging $966,045 in matched savings, totaling $1,295,969 invested into the lives of lower-income families and into the Arkansas economy.
  • $3,223,798 in home mortgage loans have been acquired by participants.
  • 69 homes have been purchased.
  • 119 homes have been renovated.
  • 99 participants have pursued a post-secondary education.
  • 53 small businesses have been started or expanded.

Arkansas IDA Success Stories:
Priscilla Smith, from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, faithfully saved $113 every month for six months to purchase a new sewing machine and equipment for her home-based business, Stitch-N-Save Design and Alterations. During this time she completed all the economic skills training classes and began working with Southern Good Faith Fund’s Business Development Center to build her business plan.

Priscilla says, “I learned a lot from the classes, especially about setting a goal and sticking to it. If you stick to your goal you will come out ahead. The classes were very inspiring.”

Detria Stackhouse, from Helena, Arkansas, needed to make repairs to her home, but didn’t have the money or savings to get the work done. She opened an IDA account and began saving money for the first time in her life. Within seven months she had reached her savings goal and completed the economic skills training classes.

“Since I’ve had insulated windows and storm doors installed, my house is warmer and my utility bills are lower. I can open my windows to enjoy the air. On top of it all, I love being in my kitchen now that my cabinets aren’t falling down.”

For more information about Southern Good Faith Fund’s innovative IDA account, call 888.323.6233.

Southern Good Faith Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to increasing incomes and assets of low-income and low-skilled residents in rural communities. Southern Good Faith Fund, Southern Financial Partners, and Southern Property Corporation are affiliates of Southern Bancorp, a $500 million rural development bank with banking operations in Arkansas and Mississippi