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Springfield, MO

Northwest Project boosts income for those in poverty

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The Northwest Project released its annual report after two years in action.

The organization, dedicated to assisting Springfieldians living in poverty, is in its second year of a $1.3 million five-year grant funded through Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Stanley and Elaine Ball Foundation. Led by the Drew Lewis Foundation Inc., Missouri State University and Drury University, The Northwest Project expanded in its second year to include Grant Beach, Robberson, Heart of the Westside and Woodland Heights neighborhoods. A total of 55 people have participated in eight cohorts, representing 204 family and household members, according to a news release.

“We’ve learned a lot in the past two years about what it really takes to help these families work their way out on a sustainable basis,” said Louise Knauer, CFO’s chief operating officer.

Highlights from the annual report:
    •    Average income for participants has increased by about $450 a month per household.
    •    Total debt reduction with the 33 currently active participant households is $313,954.
    •    Employment rates for participants have doubled.
    •    Credit scores of participants have increased by an average of 20 points – with one individual increasing by 100 points.
    •    In January and February 2018, the organization’s community dinners served 2,296 meals to 1,046 adults and 1,250 children.
    •    First-year funding led to second-year research regarding adverse childhood experiences and the assessment of participants using the Family Hardiness Index and Adult Hope Scale to “better understand and address the personal dynamics that contribute to long-term resiliency,” according to the release.
    •    During the past 18 months, 610 volunteers contributed 2,171 service hours creating an estimated $46,000 economic impact.

Looking into its third year, according to the report, The Northwest Project will focus on its Circles U.S.A Youth program. Additionally, it will create a study to gauge the impact of its financial coaching with financial institution partners, as well as a study on the economic impact of investing in poverty prevention and reduction.

“The goal is to gather as much data as possible, because this is really considered a pilot project,” Knauer said. “The more data we have, the better decision we can make toward the end of the five-year project to move forward in year six and beyond.”

Representatives from Missouri State University, The Northwest Project, Drew Lewis Foundation and The Grantwell LLC assessed data to create the annual report.

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