Every day, many low-income North Carolina families struggle to meet their basic needs and to move towards self-sufficiency. The economic recession has increased poverty and unemployment across North Carolina, particularly in counties hard-hit by job losses in traditional industries. Yet more than $2.3 billion in government supports such as tax credits, nutrition assistance, student financial aid, and health care remain unclaimed each year by eligible North Carolina families. When claimed, these supports encourage and sustain employment, improve welfare-to-work success rates, help students and displaced workers complete postsecondary education and training, improve health outcomes, and reduce recidivism among returning ex-offenders.
The Benefit Bank® of North Carolina (TBB™-NC) is a statewide initiative managed by MDC that combines grassroots outreach and use of an online expert service called The Benefit Bank to connect eligible families with supports. TBB-NC is supported by funding from The Duke Endowment and the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Workforce Solutions, to train volunteers and staff from community-based organizations to serve as counselors. This network of trained counselors then helps clients complete and file income tax returns and applications for work supports.
With the support of the Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation, MDC is demonstrating an integrated service delivery model at 16 North Carolina community colleges by training staff to serve as “Success Coaches” who connect students with supports using The Benefit Bank and provide financial coaching and employment advice.
- To bolster the work of community organizations in helping their clients out of poverty, homelessness, and hunger and into education and secure employment.
- To establish a strong network of comprehensive one-stop shops for work, education, and health supports and resources for the uninsured and working poor in the state.
- To demonstrate an integrated service delivery model at community colleges that utilizes trained staff members who assist students with accessing supports, financial coaching strategies, and career and employment advice. These strategies are designed to increase retention and completion rates of low-income and first-generation students.
- Served 18,000 households, which completed 32,000 applications and claimed an estimated $32 million in work supports
- Trained more than 1,180 counselors at 300 sites in 73 counties throughout North Carolina
- Created a dedicated, toll-free number (855-MY-TBBNC, or 855-698-2262) that has helped hundreds of callers