From the Daily Record on 6/23/16:

Md. financial education and coaching provider wins federal grants
By: Anamika Roy Daily Record Business Writer June 22, 2016

In an effort to help teenagers with disabilities and their families with their finances, the Maryland CASH Campaign has been awarded nearly $740,000 in grants from the Maryland Department of Disabilities to create a financial education and coaching program.

The grants will be used to expand programs in a federal government initiative called Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or PROMISE, which provides services to children who receive Supplemental Security Income. The grant was initially $257,000 over five years but the federal government added an additional $482,000 to support the program’s education component.

“They really wanted to scale it up,” said Robin McKinney, director of Maryland CASH.

Maryland was one of five states that was awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education for the program. Maryland is the only state with a PROMISE Initiative program that has an educational component, said McKinney.

PROMISE offers both group classes and individual counseling, depending on the client’s needs. For example, if a PROMISE client is a victim of identity theft, Maryland CASH will provide financial counseling and help the client take the necessary next steps such as adding fraud alerts through credit reporting agencies, check credit reports and help the client get new bank accounts to and get SSI deposits switched to that new account.

Maryland CASH decided to vie for the grant after talking to the state Department of Disabilities about the need for financial education for disabled youth.

“This project was looking at education and workforce,” said McKinney, specifically, teaching teenagers how to handle a paycheck responsibly. PROMISE offered the ideal test environment for such a program, she said.

The intent of the program is to target teens while they’re still in high school to get them ready for employment. The program also seeks to teach families about other benefits and programs for which they might be eligible.

The people in the program have a range physical and mental disabilities and range from ages 15 to 17.

Maryland CASH is also preparing a mental health first aid kit for its partners to help them catch warning signs in a client’s finances. For example, if someone is taking advantage of a client and improperly spending his or her money. The program will also help clients get access to free tax preparation, McKinney said.

“We want them to have a positive interaction with the tax system,” she said.

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