In late 2015, Delta Health Alliance expanded its financial literacy initiative by creating the Delta DREAMS program.
Funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Delta DREAMS is a community based approach for giving low income families a “hand-up”.
Utilizing existing individual and community assets, the Delta DREAMS program strengthens Delta counties residents through the use of matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). Along with financial education and the use of IDAs, Delta Health Alliance helps low-income individuals move toward greater self-sufficiency.
The Delta DREAMS (Dollars Reinvested in Education and Assets to Maximize Success) program is a collaboration between Delta Health Alliance, Indianola Promise Community and regional banking institutions, economic development agencies, service groups, housing authorities, community representatives, institutions of higher learning, and faith-based partners.
All partners are united by a shared vision of increasing economic self sufficiency for impoverished families living in rural communities in the Mississippi Delta. The Individual Development Account (IDA) savings plan offers matching funds to qualified low-income individuals. Every $1 dollar of earned income that a participant deposits into their IDA will be matched with $2 from participating public and private funds, for a maximum individual match of $4,000. Qualified expenses from an IDA can include post-secondary education or training, the purchase of a first home, or qualified business capitalization expenses. Participants will be required to complete financial literacy training, and will receive access to a wide variety of support services including assets specific training, financial coaching, credit-building services, credit/ debt counseling, and assistance with tax credits and tax preparation.
Partners include Guaranty Bank, which provides matching dollars for IDA accounts; the Mississippi Community Financial Access Coalition and Sunflower County United for Children, which are providing financial literacy courses; and the Delta Housing Authority that are assisting in locating quality and affordable housing. Delta Health Alliance has now partnered with Mississippi State University to assist 400 low-income students with money for school and financial education. MSU and Delta Health Alliance will provide a total of $1.15 million to assist low-income students through the MSU/DHA Delta DREAMS Savings Grant. The University will supply $575,000 to match $575,000 in Delta Health Alliance grant funds. The MSU/ DHA partnership will then provide $4 in grant funds for every $1 deposited into the account by the student, providing the student with up to $2,500 in grant funds to help with the cost of paying for college.