Prosperity Connection simplifies money talk
Non-profit teaches financial literacy and offers low-cost, small-dollar banking services
By Ashley Jones for the St. Louis American
Prosperity Connection is a non-profit organization helping individuals and families earn economic independence through financial education, community services, and low-cost banking options, founded by the Board of Directors of St. Louis Community Credit Union in 2009.
“I think the cool part of our Prosperity Connection is we don’t have to sell you products or services,” McCall said. “We work with just about every financial institution in the St. Louis metro. We know their products, their services. We bring them out to functions.”
Prosperity Connections has over 40 community partners they work with in two ways. One is working with social service providers or schools that have a specific need, but don’t always have a financial education component. The other is partnering with banks and credit unions to help customers prepare for a financial product.
“Basically if someone came into U.S Bank or Midland and they’re just on the cusp of being able to apply for a loan but not quite there, then they will do a referral to one of our coaches,” said Torrey Park, director of Development for Prosperity Connection. “We have built relations for specific coaches at different locations to take that on and help people become more viable in that way.”
Sometimes they just do one-offs where they are asked to come in and speak one time. Those connections are still considered partners.
“Since we don’t offer a tangible product, it’s very important for us to have strong relationships with people that we can trust,” McCall said. “We are willing to work with anybody who has the same mission and passion.”
Prosperity Connection has four Excel Center locations. Its Old North location was a partnership rehabbing the building with Rise Community Development Corporation and Equifax Foundation. Its South City location was built from the ground up. It also has locations in Pagedale and St. John. They do community assessments to see where the needs are in each community.
Park said, “There is a very conscious decision to place our Excel Centers into certain locations that will geographically cover as much
as possible and be a focal point.”
McCall said the Excel Center locations are not the only places the Prosperity Connection operates. “We are all over the place,” he said. “Monday we were in St. Louis County jail with a number of our bank partners working with some of the individuals in the jail that are getting ready to come home. We just read their credit reports, talked to them about what their options may be.”
RedDough is a subsidiary of Prosperity Connection that is physically linked at two of its four locations throughout the St. Louis area. RedDough Money Center is a low-cost option for small-dollar consumer loans, check cashing and other banking services.
“We put RedDough out into the community so people can understand what it is that we do and that we actually exist,” said Tamika Wicker, Operations manager for RedDough. “Once we get to know our members and know exactly what it is that they’re looking for and what they need, then we refer them over to Prosperity Connection with Jaison and his team so that they can get their financial literacy and get back on track.”