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Check out the new website at WeProsperIL.org

At our annual event in June, we said it was time to “change the map” – reforming financial services so that Chicago’s system in which communities of color get far fewer opportunities.

That’s why Woodstock Institute, New America Chicago, and Chicago Urban League are launching a new joint initiative called WeProsper Illinois. We Prosper is supported by The Chicago Community Trust and JPMorgan Chase.

WeProsper is dedicated to educating lawmakers and the public about predatory financial practices that strip wealth from communities, with a special focus on lower-income communities and communities of color.

WeProsper also provides practical tools for families to improve their finances, as well as research to help build support for alternatives that build wealth in low-income communities.

Unsavory businesses have targeted Black and Brown communities for decades, if not centuries. Predatory non-bank lenders and other businesses have pushed high interest rates, premium prices for inferior products, and confusing and onerous terms on communities struggling from years of disinvestment, racist policies, and lower pay for equal work. For example, across the U.S. as of 2016, Black median wealth stood at just $3,400 and Latinx median wealth came in at $6,400, compared to a median wealth of $140,000 for Whites. 

Those barely getting by have paid incredible premiums whenever their paycheck just isn’t enough to make it another few days. It is no coincidence these communities are also banking deserts populated by alternative financial service providers. WeProsper is one of many groups working to change the status quo of disinvestment.

Our three organizations have worked together for months to pass and protect Illinois’s new Predatory Loan Prevention Act (PLPA), which caps interest rates on personal loans at 36% and protects Illinoisans from getting trapped in a cycle of debt by a predatory lender.

“Woodstock is invested in the long-term financial stability of communities and families,” said Brent Adams, Senior Vice President. “The passage of the PLPA was just the beginning of a new chapter in our work — a chapter during which we proactively connect with folks who previously turned to predatory lenders.”

The WeProsper website, WeProsperIL.org, will host the Affordable Alternatives to Predatory Loans Resource Guide. The positive response to the guide that we have received from other states, consumers, and regulators greatly exceeded our expectations! New resources and WeProsper research and policy briefs will be added to the website as they are released.

As one of our first projects, We Prosper will be advertising financial tips on WVON, the historic African-American radio station, using strategies pulled from the Resource Guide. A number of local financial institutions are co-sponsoring this effort.

Check out the new website at www.WeProsperIL.org.

Answer the new WeProsper survey and you could win $150!

WeProsper just posted a new survey to learn how communities have been adjusting to an economy that no longer includes predatory loans. The results of the survey will be used to advocate for safe, affordable lending products and services. For every 100 people who answer the entire survey, we will raffle off a $150 Visa Prepaid gift card! 

Survey answers are completely confidential and will not be connected to the respondent’s name. Respondents may also be eligible for a paid follow-up interview with a WeProsper team member. Providing an email to enter the raffle is optional, and we will ONLY use email addresses to contact raffle winner(s) or follow up for a paid interview.

Take the survey here: bit.ly/sharePLsurvey