BENEFITING: START SMALL THINK BIG INC
What is Start Small?
Start Small Think Big is a non-profit organization bringing high-quality financial development services and civil legal assistance to residents of the South Bronx.
Start Small is located in the heart of the South Bronx, in New York’s 16th Congressional District. The Bronx remains the poorest urban county in the United States, and NY16 the poorest congressional district.
Start Small’s mission is to empower its clients, over 80% of whom are low-income and minority women, to increase their economic opportunities and build sustainable financial independence.
Start Small’s goal is to provide its clients with the tools that they need to navigate toward self-defined goals. Start Small employs a positive, holistic, and person-centered approach to financial development.
Being positive places the emphasis on what people have, can do or hope for; rather than seeing people and places in terms of their problems, deficiencies or what they lack.
Being person-centered recognizes the importance of social and personal relationships and people’s own perceptions, including the way these are shaped by culture, values and meaning. It means getting to know clients and brainstorming with them about problem solving.
Being holistic means offering comprehensive and effective solutions to the social service, psychological, and human needs that clients have, and giving a rounded understanding of quality of life that sets conventional material indicators in the context of other things that matter to people.
Start Small's Impact = Clients think bigger and more long-term, and direct their own path toward a future of increased assets, reduced vulnerability to financial shocks, and improved overall economic security.
Why is Start Small's work so important?
The majority of Bronx households have few assets, are highly vulnerable to financial shocks (job loss, illness, unexpected expense), and suffer extreme financial distress. In the South Bronx specifically (where Start Small is located), more than 80% of households have no money ($0) at the end of the month. The current credit crisis is further straining Bronx households. As the economic downturn continues, financial problems become legal problems – first default and collection claims, followed by bankruptcy. This is particularly damaging to the poor who lack access to civil legal services. Significantly, at least 80% of low-income Americans who need civil legal assistance do not receive any.
What is Start Small doing (specifically) to address these problems?
Start Small helps its clients to meet their most-pressing needs and achieve their longer-term financial goals through three related programs:
(i) holistic case management and casework counseling, to ensure that clients can access the appropriate supports and benefits that underpin their economic security, such as health insurance, safe and affordable housing, and childcare;
(ii) financial counseling that helps clients identify their longer-term financial goals, such as going back to school, buying a house, or starting a small business, create and adhere to personalized budgets, and access appropriate financial services, including savings products and low-cost credit options; and
(iii) legal workshops and clinics, to assist clients in areas affecting economic security such as small business development, consumer debt and bankruptcy.
What has Start Small accomplished, to date?
In Start Small's short two-year history, it has:
✓served over 500 people (over 80% of whom are low-income minority women).
✓brought close to $500,000 worth of pro bono and in-kind financial and legal services to the South Bronx through strategic partnerships with over thirty law firms, banks, credit unions, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, and academic and governmental institutions.
✓provided close to 1,000 hours of small business legal advice to over 70 people, helping them protect their businesses, their intellectual property, and their personal assets (in partnership with Bingham McCutchen).
✓provided more than 1,500 hours of public benefits counseling services, to approximately 350 people, helping them to access benefits, tax credits and other government services valued at close to $100,000 (in partnership with the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation).
✓provided approximately 300 hours of personal financial counseling services to more than 150 people (in partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Financial Empowerment).