Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, National Corp. on Community Service Fund WSU Extension Grants to Boost Eastern Washington Prosperity

PULLMAN, Wash. – Building on the successes of two of its “poverty to prosperity” projects, Washington State University Extension has been awarded two new grants totaling $100,000 to help eastern Washington residents – especially Latinos and young people –build their economic assets.

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has awarded WSU Extension $50,000 for the initiative. In addition, WSU Extension was one of only 11 grantees nationwide to receive a $49,580 grant from the Washington D.C.-based National Corporation on Community Service. The initiative is schedule to begin in early 2012.

“This initiative grows directly out of two highly successful WSU Extension community prosperity projects,” said Patrick Malone, WSU Extension educator and initiative lead. “It builds upon, but goes beyond these efforts by focusing on asset development as a primary individual and family wealth generation strategy. If successful, that strategy will increase family income, savings rates, automobile and home ownership rates, college admissions and business ownership as well as community jobs, employment, investment and overall economic activity.”

WSU Extension has worked with 42 rural communities in 16 Washington counties since 1996 through its Horizons Project, a comprehensive poverty reduction directed by WSU Extension educator Doreen Hauser-Lindstrom. Since 2009, WSU Extension also has operated the Columbia Basin Microenterprise Assistance Pilot Program in five eastern Washington counties. Malone leads that program.

The new initiative will deliver a broad range of personal and community asset-building strategies to participants, Malone said. Specifically, it incorporates financial education, free tax preparation, individual development accounts, microenterprise business development, small business mentoring, credit repair, increased access to capital, business counseling, resource networking, a quarterly business plan competition, ecommerce and social media training and coaching, and participation in the statewide BANK ON campaign promoted by the Washington Asset-Building Coalition.

Malone noted that AmeriCorps members will serve with professional staff from local organizations through the region to deliver the programs.