Catalyst Miami Disaster Matched Savings Account
The Catalyst Miami Disaster Matched Savings Account was established as a resource for low- and moderate-income individuals within Miami, Florida neighborhoods to help families build financial stability, and better withstand disaster events. The program helps households build assets and savings through the use of financial coaching, credit coaching, and lending circles. The program encourages savings behavior and offers a 1-to-1 match as an incentive. In addition, Catalyst Miami distributes disaster preparedness kits to those who partake in the Program by saving the full amount of the cost of the kit. It also provides important information about hurricane season, along with emergency preparedness resources available from local government and community partners both before and after storms. By supplying communities with these disaster preparedness kits, as well as with teaching participants how to bank and save responsibly, Catalyst Miami helps low-income, underserved communities better withstand the shocks – economic and otherwise – often associated with disaster events.
A study from the United Way found that 45% of households in Florida are only one disaster away from falling into poverty or financial crisis. In some cities, including Miami, this percentage is as high as 63%. This indicates that many households and families are not economically stable, and would not be able to withstand many of the financial hits associated with disaster events, such as repairs or rebuilds, medical care, lost electricity, etc. Many of these families are also uncomfortable with banking systems, either because they are not knowledgeable about the benefits of savings accounts, or because they have historically not had access to them nor do they fully trust them based on historic discriminatory practices by banks.
To encourage active participation in the program’s financial coaching sessions, and ensure that clients are able to create and continue to contribute to their savings accounts, Catalyst Miami offers incentives, such as providing matching funds. Along with this financial planning assistance, the program also provides participants with disaster preparedness kits, which contain supplies such as solar-powered radios, collapsible water jugs, and first-aid kits. With the support of the program, families are better prepared physically and financially for the next hurricane or disaster event.
The Catalyst Miami Disaster Preparedness Participant Agreement presents the responsibilities of both parties, as well as the program restrictions. The responsibilities of the participant include proof of saving $100 by a certain date by submitting two consecutive months of bank statements and attendance at a minimum of two financial coaching sessions. The responsibilities of Catalyst Miami include a 1-to-1 matched savings contribution of $100, a disaster safety kit and ongoing one-on-one assistance to participants towards the successful reach of Disaster Preparedness savings goals.
The Catalyst Miami Disaster Savings Account Program specifically focuses on residents of some of Florida’s most impoverished communities, including North Miami, Hialeah, and Homestead. Catalyst Miami has been successful in gaining traction with funders by building upon existing programs while also offering a core set of services while being innovative. Most importantly, Catalyst Miami has always been open to collaboration with community members which is key in providing equitable solutions. The program is unique and successful partially because its employees collaborate directly with individuals and households to tailor an educational program that fits each family’s economic needs. Financial planners work with clients to create savings accounts and build credit, as well as educate and encourage the use of banking systems, credit unions, credit cards, and more.
- Catalyst Miami
- Equitable Adaptation Legal & Policy Toolkit > Equitable Disaster Preparedness, Response & Recovery > Funding: Sustainable Sources and Increased Access
- Education/training materials
- Funding program
- Extreme storms and hurricanes