Our 2013 end-of-year giving campaign “The Power of Yes” struck a chord in our community. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, I encourage you to take a look. At Opportunity Fund, we’re in the business of saying “yes” to opportunity. “Yes” to starting a business. “Yes” to starting a new chapter. “Yes” to getting ahead. In fact, we say “yes” to someone’s dream to build a better life 5 times a day! And, in turn, you – the community – said “yes.” We had a goal to raise $320,000 in 60 days. And I’m thrilled to report we met this ambitious goal. This means we raised the funds necessary to hit the ground running in 2014: we plan to lend $14.6 million to 1,200 entrepreneurs and help 400 people save $4 million. This will put 1,800 people on a path to economic opportunity, create 3,480 jobs, and spur $24 million in new economic activity in our community. All because you said “Yes”!
While the crawl out of the Great Recession presses on, the news continues to bring stories of “no” on a regular basis. The effects of these “no” stories are often felt hardest by our most vulnerable neighbors. In 2013, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, was given a big “no” by Congress with massive funding cuts to the program. In California, where 1 in 3 families doesn’t make enough to cover costs for food, shelter and medicine, 11% of residents are SNAP recipients. A new report shows that lending to small businesses in California over the past 6 years by major banks is down 60%. These entrepreneurs continue to hear “no” when they walk into a bank. And have we already forgotten the big “no” from this past October when the federal government shut down for business?
Funding gap, overspending, unemployment, budget deficit, income inequality, low-wages, shrinking middle class – we have heard a lot about all of these topics in 2013. It’s easy to feel powerless. But you’re not.
Many of our neighbors need a boost – from the right financial tools at the right time. Opportunity Fund creates pathways to higher education and entrepreneurship, two proven tools to give that boost and expand economic opportunity. We deeply thank those of you who said “yes” and made a gift to this year’s campaign.
As the quotes from these donors show, together we can be the solution to our community’s economic insecurity. Didn’t get a chance to make a gift to the campaign? Your gift is still needed.
We posed the question “What inspired you to make this donation?”
Here are some of the responses:
- “I believe in the concept of paying it forward and helping those less fortunate in my community.”
- “Because of how lives are changed by Opportunity Fund.”
- “I attended an event which highlighted the power of the folks given a chance through this program.”
- “Paying it forward…”
- “I believe in the power of financial education.”
- “To help out those who are trying, but need a bit more help.
- “Because the gift of savings is powerful.”
- “Because people need opportunities to grow!”
- “It is always a wonderful feeling when money stays local because it provides a significant impact to the community in which I live.”