Archive for January, 2012

January 31, 2012

iFind: Springfield

We’re heading to the capital, people! iFindit has been invited by Governor Quinn to be a guest at the State of the State address on Wednesday, February 1st in Springfield.  This is perfect timing because this sweet little mobile app built to help people find resources like food, shelter and medical care faster, is expanding to cover the state of Illinois.

iFindit plans to add more resources to the app on a state-wide basis and needs community partners to check the data on the application to ensure its correct.  This goes for both Chicago and state-wide non-profits. Since winning first place in the Apps for Metro Chicago contest, the creator and founder, Elizabeth Park received an influx of interest from community members both locally and nationally.

When 40% of people making less than $30,000 a year use smart phones to find information – this platform is key to reaching a demographic once ignored.   Mobile apps are becoming a critical way for low-income residents to have access to data.  Our ask to our Illinois NPOs:

1.) Send us your data

2.) Check up on your data.

iFindit is a small shop right now and very few people are doing some very good work.  We’d like for everyone to be able to use this tool.  But for now, it starts with self-made motivations from community partners.  From the city of Big Shoulders to the Land of Lincoln, we’re starting something Illinoisans.

Contact elizabeth@ifinditchicago.com

January 11, 2012

Increase in Tax Credit Officially Passed!

Governor Pat Quinn signing the bill that would increase the EITC to 7.5% next year, then to 10% the following year.

Photo by Elizabeth Park

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January 10, 2012

The holiday that doesn’t cost you anything

With Christmas and New Years leaving our wallets drained and our bank accounts dwindling, the encroaching tax season becomes a stressful time for working class families across the country. But on January 27, a national “holiday” sponsored by the IRS will look to educate the public of a tax credit that can put thousands of dollars back in your pocket, becoming a real day of giving.

EITC Awareness Day is an annual grassroots anti-poverty effort to help raise awareness for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a tax benefit most low-income individuals and families are eligible for. On January 27, charity organizations, elected officials, state and government employers and other interested parties will band together to generate as much mainstream coverage on the EITC as possible.

This year especially is a momentous year for EITC Awareness Day. The House recently passed a bill that would increase the tax credit from 5%to 7.5% next year, then ultimately to 10% the following year, doubling the size of credit. Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign this bill.

Although having been around for more than 37 years, according to the EITC website, one out of every five eligible resident is still unaware of the EITC and their eligibility. Only four out of five people actually file and claim their tax credit. “We want to raise that number to five out of five,” the website states. “They earned it, but must file and claim it to get it….meaning awareness is critical.”

With the good news of an increased tax credit, it is absolutely crucial that everyone is made well aware of the EITC benefits.

You never know if you or a friend could be eligible, as it could mean up to $5,751 in pocketed credit.

Our family at iFindit Chicago believe in empowering people with impacting resources, so IF YOU would like to help increase EITC awareness, please contact your IRS relationship manager, email partner@irs.gov, or follow @IRSEITCDay on Twitter. Or, simply, spread the word.

FOR MORE INFORMATION on the EITC and whether you are eligible, visit http://www.eitc.irs.gov/ptoolkit/basicmaterials/ff/

TO LEARN MORE about the bill recently passed in Illinois to expand credit, visit http://www.taxcreditsforworkingfamilies.org/2011/12/illinois-doubles-state-eitc

January 6, 2012

Homeless teens in Chicago at an all-time high

With the current economic state—high housing and low employment rates—it’s proving to be more and more difficult for those in troubled times to seek help and get back on their feet. The hardest hitting demographic of the dismal economy appears to be young adults—especially those without the financial or emotional support of a family. According to a story published on Chicagonewscoop.org , it is reported more than 10,000 teenagers were enrolled as homeless students in Chicago public schools this fall—a record high. 

As demand escalates, the state is facing its own economic hardships. Illinois is currently swimming in a $500 million budget deficit alongside billions of dollars in unpaid bills. In a recent story by the Huffington Post, it suggests governor Pat Quinn plans to cut the budgets of “nearly all state operations” including “human service programs” like homeless shelters and facilities (most of which are already struggling to stay financially afloat). 

 Although the realities may be discouraging, we believe 2012 could be a pivotal year. If this story resonates with you, we encourage you to take action.

**WE WANT YOU to share your support- spread the news, voice your opinion, and let our state officials realize that we need to preserve these vital programs!** 

SOURCES: 

http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/youth-homelessness-on-the-rise-in-chicago/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/04/illinois-budget-problems-_n_1183300.html?ref=chicago

January 4, 2012

2012–The year of the humanitarian

As we drift into the new year, we are confronted with a shopping list for self-improvement projects we like to call “new years resolutions.” Sitting at the top of most of these lists are commitments to go to the gym, to budget your money, and to spend more time with family—efforts aimed at ultimately becoming a much healthier, wealthier, happier person. And while these ideas sound great on paper, let’s get real: most resolutions are broken well before the year has ended.

So before you contract yourself to that yearlong gym membership, perhaps you should consider a resolution that can reap more, well, lasting results.

Our team at iFindit Chicago is passionate about volunteering and the value of giving, as most services we list depend on the generous contributions from everyday folk like you and me. Whether or not it made it on your list this time around, we hope volunteering is a goal you continue to resolve without the reminder of turning a new year.

Here are some sites and services in the local Chicago area where you can offer your time and/or resources (most of which are linked through our iFindit mobile app!):

 

Cornerstone Community Outreach –this center affords a variety of services to neighboring residents or individuals/families in the area without a home. From free clothing and meal plans to assistance with resume-writing, CCO aims “to raise the quality of life for low-income residents.” To inquire how you may help at CCO, visit www.ccolife.org

Greater Chicago Food Depository –a nonprofit food bank that prides itself in distributing to 678,000 adults each year, Greater Chicago Food Depository looks to continue their fight against hunger. To volunteer in their soup kitchen, visit http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/

Christopher House –having five sites on Chicago’s north and west ends, Christopher House feeds, educates, and supports over 4,000 children and family members each year.

“Everyday, Christopher House volunteers make a tremendous impact on the lives of the children and families that we serve,” their website writes. If this interests you, visit christopherhouse.org for more information.

Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago –the Comer Children’s Hospital is one of the leading medical centers in the Chicago area. Volunteers at the site help to deliver mail or books to a child’s bedside, comfort families going through difficult times, and assist in games and activities organized for hospitalized children. To participate in their volunteering program, visit http://www.uchicagokidshospital.org/contribute/volunteer

 

**WE WANT TO KNOW: Would you be interested in downloading a mobile application that would match you with volunteering opportunities in your area? Let us know by commenting below!**