Time running out to sign up for Smart Savers

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Many West Side residents dream of finishing college, buying a home or starting their own business. Sometimes, the main obstacle is the financial boost – and management skills – to get started.

Now, through a generous gift from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and a federal grant, Bethel New Life’s Smart Savers program is offering a $4,000 incentive to get started.

But time is running out – the remaining 54 spots must be filled by the first week of April.

For struggling families, Bethel’s Smart Savers program is an opportunity to get past obstacles and build wealth.

“My grandfather used to say, ‘If you can’t find the way, make a way,’” said Bethel New Life program director Pierre Dunagan. “This program gives people the opportunity to make that way.”

Participants commit to saving $2,000 of their income over six months. Up to $1,500 of this amount can come from an earned income tax credit. Savers also agree to attend a free financial literacy course.

In return, the program will match savings with $4,000, leaving participants with a total of $6,000.

Savings must be used toward a first-time home purchase, starting a small business, college or vocational training for either the participant or their dependents.

Already, more than 150 people have used their $6,000 toward their goal.

“I couldn’t have gotten my sons back in school by myself. This gave me the opportunity to get them in school,” said past participant Diane Bullock.

To be eligible for the program, an individual must be an Illinois resident, have been employed for the past six months, be over the age of 18 and fit within these income brackets:

1-person household — $21,660
2-person household — $29,140
3-person household — $36,620
4-person household — $44,100
5-person household — $51,580
6-person household — $59,060

Smart Savers is a partnership between Bethel New Life, Thrivent Financial for Lutheran, the federal Assets for Independence program and US Bank.

To apply, visit the Community Savings Center at 310 N. Pulaski, just north of Lake Street. For more information, call 773-826-8121.

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