CAC and Howard Bank Encourage Dream$avers

The Community Action Council (CAC) of Howard County and Howard Bank are partnering on a program to encourage financial savings by families with low incomes. According to CAC Executive Director Bita Dayhoff, families with children in Head Start, particularly female-heads of households, are being targeted for the savings program.

"It's based on the concept that without an opportunity to build assets, low income families will always be on the verge of crisis," Dayhoff explained.

"Community banks have always advocated for families to develop good savings habits. Such habits provide more than a safety net ; they have traditionally provided a bridge to a better future for our children - which has always been the American dream," said Mary Ann Scully, Howard Bank President and CEO.

Named "Dream$avers," the local program is funded through a savings match grant from the federal government to CAC. Enrolled families open an account at Howard Bank, receive financial counseling and are encouraged to put aside savings on a regular basis. CAC matches the families' savings $2 for every $1 saved up to $2,000.

"CAC has taken the lead in recognizing that savings habits are very hard to develop, practically speaking, for those living near subsistence levels. Their work to successfully gather and deploy government grants to make this a reality is exciting and Howard Bank is proud to be chosen as their partner," Scully said, noting, "We look forward to helping to build that bridge to the American dream one saver at a time."

Once a family reaches its financial goal, it can spend the savings on continuing education, starting a small business, or purchasing a home, Dayhoff said.