Name: Mae Hougo ’18
Organization: Prepare + Prosper
Prepare + Prosper is a free tax and financial services non-profit based in St. Paul, Minnesota. During the tax season Prepare + Prosper sets up free tax clinics all around the metro area, which people below a certain income can come and receive tax help from our trained volunteers. The organization also encourages people to see their tax refund as a “money moment.” Their refund could be used to set up a savings account for the unforeseeable emergencies in life.
What were you up to this past summer?
I am the outreach intern here at Prepare + Prosper. I am working with the communications staff to inform the community about Prepare + Prospers services, and a few specific tax credits. In Minnesota there is a tax credit for families with children in grades K-12 to write off the school supplies and materials they buy. The summer is the perfect time of year to encourage families to save their receipts. My job has been to contact the principals of schools in the area, as well as local organizations that might be having back-to-school events. I send the schools and organizations materials and information about the tax credit and our services.
I also work with on the Claim It Campaign, which is a state wide campaign informing the public about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a federal tax credit for low-income working individuals and families. This tax credit is the number one way to fight poverty in our country. I work with our Campaign Manager here at Prepare + Prosper in restructuring our materials so that they are useful, engaging tools for our viewers. I am also helping the organization become better connected with counties around the state in order to reach more people eligible for the credit.
What was your favorite part?
My favorite part of my internship was going into the community and sharing with people how our services can help them become more financially stable. Whether it is at a local shelter, or a veteran’s event, I enjoy the one-on-one time I can spend with members of the community. I hope that my doing so incentivizes more people to use our tax and financial services, which can allow them to get ahead.
What surprised you?
What has surprised me the most is how dedicated the network of volunteers is to Prepare + Prosper’s mission. I have been fortunate enough to attend a volunteer appreciation event. The volunteers dedicate so much of their time to this organization, and a lot of them donate money as well. They see how a tax refund can better a life, and continue to volunteer year after year.