live / 2018
Financial Security for Low-Income Angelenos
Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.
Golden State Opportunity strives to improve the lives of working Californians through a program of research, analysis, public information, and education. GSO leads, participates in, and supports comprehensive efforts related to economic security such as job creation, community development, and distribution of benefits.
Which of the live metrics will your activation impact?
- Number of households below the self-sufficiency standard
Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?
- LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT
In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?
- Influence individual behavior
- CalEITC4Me strives to improve the lives of working Californians by making work pay better through utilization of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). According to a survey conducted by the California Budget and Policy Center found that fewer than 1 in 5 people who were likely eligible for the CalEITC had even heard of the credit. Because of that, California has the highest rate of unclaimed EITC nationally, leaving $2 Billion of unclaimed EITC money on the table.
Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to live?
Golden State Opportunity strives to bring economic security and improve the lives of working Californians through a program of research, analysis, public information, outreach and education. Our primary program is CalEITC4Me, a public-private partnership with the Governor’s office and State to conduct outreach and education about the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC).
As inequality grows in California, work is simply not paying enough to keep up with rising cost of living and a changing economy. The CalEITC is a cash back tax refund that makes work pay better, and provides much needed assistance in an economy that grows more and more imbalanced every year. In the program’s first two years, it has helped put nearly $2 billion directly into the pockets of almost 800,000 low-income working California families between the state and federal EITC.
The EITC advances social and economic equity throughout low-income communities by providing financial security and helping reduce short and long term poverty. CalEITC4Me’s aggressive outreach efforts ensure available CalEITC and federal EITC money reach under-resourced communities, bringing economic security in the near term and increased opportunity over time to those in poverty, especially women and children. Research shows children whose families receive an EITC income boost perform better in school, are healthier, and earn more as adults.
As a result of our advocacy efforts in 2017 to expand access to the CalEITC, where workers making up to $22,300 a year and ALL self-employed people (not just W2) are now covered, over 1.6 million Californians will now be eligible for the CalEITC in 2018. This is triple the eligible population of the last two years, and CalEITC4Me is now responsible for ensuring this population benefits from the economic opportunity created by the CalEITC. We hope to take the success of last year and expand our best practices and organizing model to more of Southern California.
Our ultimate goal is to help low-income Californians not only collect thousands of dollars in EITC refunds now, but ultimately achieve life-long sustainable financial security and economic equality. We hope to turn our EITC outreach efforts into a year-round organizing model to further improve EITC uptake, connect EITC filers to other economic benefits, and help provide a platform for the working poor to be heard on issues important to their lives.
How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to live
CalEITC4Me runs a multi-layered outreach and education campaign, combining innovative and accessible online tools, grassroots organizing, multi-lingual and culturally sensitive materials and sophisticated targeting strategies to reach those likely to benefit from the EITC. We strive to reach the right people with the right information, through multiple channels of communication.
Given this year’s unique challenge to educate so many filers about the Cal EITC and Federal EITC, and connect them with local VITA sites, we propose the following multi-layered strategy:
Grassroots Organizing: Organize in underserved communities with free tax preparation events, community canvasses to targeted areas, and community activities throughout targeted areas.
Digital Outreach: Deploy texting and social media tactics for cost-effective microtargeting and layered communication directly to eligible filers in multiple languages.
Community Partners: Expand the existing coalition of trusted community messengers in Los Angeles.
Media: Aggressive ethnic, paid and earned media throughout underserved communities.
School Outreach: Work extensively with school districts, school boards, parent groups and education leaders to reach the target population: working parents with young kids.
CalEITC4Me is working with LA County to have better financial security to improve uptake of EITC in LA, reach families through the county and schools.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.
In 2017, more than 380,000 Californians claimed the EITC, putting nearly $203 million back into their pockets. Many families claimed as much as $6,000 in EITC payments when including their federal EITC refund, and the average worker received a credit of $532.
In Los Angeles:
101,941 low-income workers claimed the Cal EITC in Los Angeles County putting more than $46 million back into their pockets.
However, more than 330,750 eligible Californians do not claim the Federal EITC in Los Angeles County, leaving more than $575 million on the table. CalEITC4Me is working hand-in-hand with trusted community partners who serve and interact with those most likely to be eligible. We have created innovative online tools designed for use by individuals and the organizations working directly with them:
-The multi-lingual CalEITC4Me Calculator allows individuals and the non-profits serving them to quickly and easily see if the state and federal EITC will benefit them and the approximate amount of their potential refund.
-The calculator links to the Free Tax Prep Finder tool, a resource map that connects families to free tax preparation services in their neighborhoods.
-The CalEITC4Me Interactive Heat Map helps to identify key regions of eligible filers by ZIP code and other searchable criteria to better target efforts on the ground.
Our annual goals for Los Angeles county include:
250,000 people claim the EITC credit
Reach 100,000 individuals likely eligible for the Cal EITC via text
Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?
It is the hope of CalEITC4Me that we will increase uptake for the state and federal EITC. Through education and awareness campaigns, we hope to have a utilization rate of 80%. We also hope to utilize community support to expand access and eligibility to the EITC and continue to lift working people out of poverty. Everyone who works deserves to have the dignity of financial security and providing for their families!