An annual program powered by hundreds of volunteers puts more than $22 million into the hands of Central Texas low-income families, and UFCU is developing an internal program to support and grow it.
The Foundation Communities tax preparation program – Prosper Tax Help – enlists more than 400 volunteers to prepare the tax returns of more than 15,000 Central Texas families and individuals. Prosper Tax Help is a free service available to individuals making less than $60,000 a year and households of 2-4 people making less than $85,000 a year.
With an average tax return of more than $2,000, the program provides a significant boost to a family’s income, which helps them pay rent, utilities, and groceries, and to start a rainy-day fund or pay down debt.
As a partner with Foundation Communities, UFCU developed a program to recruit employees to volunteer as tax preparers. “Our employees understand how taxes can be a financial stressor for low-income families,” says Monica Williams, Manager of Strategic Partnerships. “We’re happy to have another way to have a positive impact on their financial journeys.”
“While the volunteer commitment is big,” Williams says, “the financial impact on these families and individuals is even bigger.”
Expanding the program
Right now, Foundation Communities is recruiting volunteers for the 2024 tax season.
Volunteering is open to anyone, and those who sign up are asked to go through 7-8 hours of self-led, virtual training, then agree to volunteer at least 30 hours during the tax season. All volunteering takes place in person at one of 11 sites across Central Texas, and volunteers work in an office setting with seasoned tax preparers, language translators, and Foundation Communities staff to support them.
“The more volunteers we have and the more we can let people know about this free service, the more money we can put back into the local economy,” says Kori Hattemer, Director of Prosper Programs at Foundation Communities.
UFCU recruiting more employees
UFCU supports the program by enlisting employees to volunteer, an effort they started last year. Employees are invited to attend a lunch-and-learn to get program details. Then employees who volunteer join an internal, online group where they can ask questions and share stories, and they’re given a unique “UFCU Tax Prep Team” to wear while they’re volunteering. The program’s goal is to create a supportive and encouraging internal community of volunteers.
Dave Wagner, CIO at UFCU, has volunteered for the past two years. He says the experience has been impactful and personally meaningful. Last year, he says, he provided tax prep assistance to 25 families, saving them $6,000 in tax preparation fees and earning them about $60,000 in tax returns. “The ability to help these folks is really tremendous,” says Wagner.
To learn more about the Foundation Communities Tax Prep program, visit FoundCom.org
As a Member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative, UFCU is passionate about helping Members improve their lives. With more than 374,000 Members and approximately $4 billion in total assets, UFCU offers a variety of products, services, and education programs to empower Members in achieving financial success. More information about UFCU can be found on the website www.ufcu.org or its social media platforms: Facebook, X, Instagram.