INDIANOLA, Miss. – A foundation in financial literacy is leading to a soon-to-be laid foundation to a new home for Sheila Rosco.
“This will be my first home and I am so excited. I’ll have that sense of security,” said the Indianola mother. “Once I complete DREAMS, I’m ready to go.”
Delta DREAMS, or Dollars Reinvested in Education and Assets to Maximize Success, is a program to provide matching funds to assist Sunflower County residents and business owners with the purchase of a first home, post-secondary education or training, or capital for a qualified business.
The program is a partnership between the Delta Health Alliance (DHA), Guaranty Bank & Trust, the Mississippi Community Financial Access Coalition and Sunflower County United for Children.
“The single most important requirement to be part of DREAMS is that each individual completes a five-week financial literacy course,” said Alexis Hynes, program coordinator. “The knowledge they gain from the financial literacy class is then realized through an asset purchase made possible through DREAMS whether it be a home, an education or a small business.”
The DREAMS program works this way:
First, an individual must have completed a financial literacy course, or take a course within three months, and obtain certification. The Indianola Promise Community (IPC) offers a five-week Financial Education Boot Camp to help residents become more financial savvy by reducing debt, establishing credit, learning to save and changing poor financial behavior.
“The financial literacy class taught me so much I didn’t know or understand about finances,” said Sheila. “I didn’t know how to save. Now I have a better understanding of how to meet my financial goals. It put me in position to own my own home.”
Second, an individual in the DREAMS program must commit to saving at least $20 per month for a minimum of six months to two years with a maximum amount of $2,000 eligible for the match. So, for example, an individual who saved the maximum would have the money matched by Guaranty Bank ($2,000) and the federal government’s Assets for Independence program ($2,000).
“That’s $6,000 that can go a long way in paying for a new home or going to college or starting a business,” said Hynes.
Third, an individual must spend the full amount saved and matched within the third year. Those wanting to use the money for home ownership must be first-time home buyers and complete a home ownership class. The same holds true for those wanting to use the funds for a small business. Those using the money for education must complete an online asset specific class.
So far, 12 people have joined the DREAMS program, which began in November. The program can accommodate 314 people over the next five years.
“My goal is to see the mindset of the community change when it comes to financial literacy,” said Hynes. “To see what it can mean in terms of a person’s financial future for them and their family.”
Once she completes DREAMS, Sheila said she’ll be in a position to lay the foundation on her new home. She’s already purchased the land. To those wanting to do the same, she would tell them to first sign up for the financial literacy course, not just for the matched dollars through DREAMS, but because “they take you step by step” toward financial success.
“The $6,000 will mean a lot,” said Sheila. “I have two kids in school and one getting ready to graduate. I won’t be so worried about helping them because I’ll have put that money towards my home. And that’s a really good feeling.”