MercyCorps Northwest, not to be confused with its parent organization MercyCorps, assists low-income current and aspiring small business owners throughout Oregon and Washington in order to reduce unemployment, grow personal incomes and assets and increase economic growth. They offer an array of programs including business education, business loans, individual development accounts (IDAs), reentry transition programs for formerly incarcerated people and agricultural business development programs for recent immigrants and refugees. MercyCorps Northwest has been in partnership with Innovative Changes since our beginnings in 2010. Our programs complement each other nicely because personal financial management skills are key not only for household stability but for running a business too.
Recently, we chatted with Sarah Castagnola, IDA Program Manager at MercyCorps NW. IC$ has had the opportunity to collaborate with Sarah’s program more and more since around the same time that IC$ premiered its IDA program, MercyCorps NW started offering education IDAs specifically for participants of its Reentry Transition Center. IC$ has begun providing the case management and financial education for these MercyCorps savers.
Sarah remarks that she is “excited to be offering education IDAs in partnership with IC$ and to integrate Mercy Corp NW’s economic development program with the Reentry Transition Center.” So far she says, “The first year has been successful and it is rewarding to offer assistance tied with education.”
Sarah says that she was drawn to the work of MercyCorps NW because she “wanted to be involved in supporting small business and local economies in Portland.” She had worked with women run cooperatives in the past and this seemed like a gratifying way to continue the work. She reflects that it has been “motivating to do this work and see people support themselves and support their families.”
Innovative Changes is pleased to have the opportunity to connect with MercyCorps savers, assist them in being successful in reaching their goal of pursuing higher education and continue building our partnership with MercyCorps NW. Thanks for your great work Sarah!