UCAN’s YOUTH PEACE SUMMIT (Youth Invitation)‏

UCAN and St. Pauls United Church of Christ cordially invite the 13-19 year-old members of your congregation/organization to participate in the 2016 Youth Peace Summit, an informative and engaging gathering about violence prevention, on Saturday, November 5 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at UCAN’s Nichols Center, 3605 W. Fillmore St. in Chicago.

A diverse group of youth leaders from around Chicagoland will gather to participate in youth-led workshops that focus on several important issues of the day that impact and involve our youth virtually no matter where they live or attend school. That day, we will focus on:

· Youth leadership development
· Implementing violence prevention strategies in communities
· Improving race and cultural relationships
· Putting our faith into action
· How to pursue and choose peace in our lives
· Developing healthy and wholesome relationships

Our goal is to share ideas, solutions and experiences that enable our youth to support each other and work in concert with others to address and prevent violence. Each year, 200 Chicago youth ages 10-25 are killed by gunfire, with vastly disproportionate numbers of African American a Hispanic children and teens killed. The social costs of gun violence in Chicago are estimated at $2.5 billion per year, or $2,500 per household. Moreover, it costs more than $70,000 per capita per year to incarcerate a juvenile offender in Illinois.

Lunch will be served and students will earn service hours for attending. As in past years, the summit is a prelude to the 2017 Polar Peace March that will kick off at St. Pauls on Sunday, January 15, 2017. In 2016, the second annual march brought together more than 400 Chicagoans of all ages and races to participate in the silent 1.5-mile march to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and promote peace. The culturally diverse participants secured pledges and contributions of more than $52,000, which impressively exceeded the fundraising goal and will support the Peace Hub. UCAN is the lead agency in the Peace Hub, which fosters collaboration among social service providers and uses a sophisticated data tracking system to ensure at-risk youth receive the support the need to thrive.

We ask that your respond by October 21, 2016 by calling or sending an e-mail to Maryam Sousan at (773) 243-7629 or Maryam.Sousan@ucanchicago.org. We look forward to you and the youth in your congregation joining us on November 5 for what will be an engaging and enlightening youth-lead gathering about important matters that impact us all.

Maryam Sousan
External Affairs

Know Your Banker

We thank Herman Davis, Regional Vice President for Liberty Bank, for sharing content from The Liberty Line, a publication of Liberty Bank.

There are many pieces to the puzzle when it comes to running a successful business. Often, nothing counts more than having adequate funding. That’s where your banker comes into the picture. The hope of course, is that your small business is in the black and operating at full speed ahead. However, there comes a time even when the most successful business needs additional capital to launch a new product line, expand the physical operations, or purchase additional equipment. There also comes a point when you’ll need your banker to help you through the tough times. So, what’s the best way to make the most of your banking relationship? Here are a few useful tips.

Be Attractive

Your banker needs to know you’re a good risk. Remember, you’re not the only one who’s in business to make a profit. So, make yourself an attractive banking client and communicate that fact to your banker. Know what you need before you walk in the door, whether it’s short-term financing, a term loan, mortgage financing for business or personal property, or other non-loan services.

Your banker is looking for a client that is financially secure and has collateral to back up the loan. Lenders also expect that you’re an expert in whatever business you’re running and that you have talented and capable business people behind you. That also means that if you are a novice, a prospective lender is going to give you a much closer look than a borrower who is experienced in his or her field. No matter your background, bankers will be looking for stable and reputable business people to work with on any given day. They’ll expect a workable business plan and one that will change and evolve as your business does as well.

Don’t Play Hard to Get

In good times and in bad, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your lender. Make sure to touch base with your bank on a regular basis so your lender knows how your business is doing, even when you’re not in immediate need of financing. It’ll be to your benefit if and when you do have banking needs. Your banker will be more likely to expedite any request if they have a clear and up to the minute picture of your business.

Always have your current financial statements at the ready. You might be surprised to know that your banker will appreciate the effort. Remember, business clients are the bedrock of any financial institution, so make sure you’re an active party in the relationship. If you’ve been contacted by the bank, get back to them ASAP. Small business owners often find it difficult to manage their time, but your banker isn’t the call to put off. When you call them back, have your financial statements and banking statements in front of you.

Be Straightforward

Your banker is certain to be full of questions. And, many business people will take that as a negative sign. But it’s par for the course. So, when you answer any and all financial and personal questions, make sure to say what you mean and mean what you say. In other words, be clear about your needs and your financial picture. Try not to go on the offensive or fall back on a defensive position either. Relax and communicate with your bankers in a straightforward way. They’ll appreciate the approach.

Honesty is the Best Policy

When it comes to banking, it’s always best to be forthcoming with information. When your banker asks for additional financial information about your business or additional details about you, make sure you respond quickly and completely. Don’t be surprised by follow-up questions. The back and forth doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get a “no” answer when it comes to your banker. They’re merely doing their job. Also, don’t spring a surprise on the bank. It pays to give your banker a complete and up-to-date picture of your business early and often.

Pay Attention to Your Savings

Don’t use your banker only for business transactions. Most small business owners shortchange themselves when it comes to personal savings. Your banker is there to not only help you when you’re financing your business, they can also assist you in planning for your short term and long-term savings. Whether you’re looking to build an emergency savings account or stash away cash for retirement, there’s a way to go about it all. Your banker can offer up ideas about the approach and the most appropriate investment options available.

Get Some Help

If you’re looking into more complicated investments, then you’ll probably need a bit more help. Most people are not ready, willing, and able to understand the vagaries and complexities of the market on their own. That’s where it pays to talk to professionals. But whatever you decide as far as your personal savings and investing, remember that for most people, a diversified portfolio with a moderate risk strategy is best. If you’re near or close to retirement, then you’ll probably want to consider more conservative and lower risk investment vehicles.

Keep in mind that, although lenders have to follow strict guidelines, they are people first. Keeping your lender in the loop gives him or her the chance to see over time that your company is on solid ground and that you exercise good financial practices. When time is of the essence, having an established relationship may be the difference between getting what you need on time, or being a day late and a dollar short.

Help Students Manage their College Loans

We thank Herman Davis, Regional Vice President for Liberty Bank, for sharing content from The Liberty Line, a publication of Liberty Bank.

Most college students today are graduating with student loans. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, two-thirds of the undergraduate college class of 2011 had student loan debt. That debt totaled an average of $26,600 per borrower, up from $25,250 in 2010. And, given the increasing cost of college, it’s pretty likely that a college loan is also in your child’s future. It’s important for parents to make their college-aged child well aware of the financial obligations that come with a student loan. A student loan is probably the very first time your kids will be in debt, and they need to know how to be responsible borrowers. So, before your son or daughter takes out a college loan, here are a few things that are important to understand.

Three Steps to Landing a Student Loan

There are a number of things that every prospective or current college student needs to do to get a student loan. But here are three things to remember:

Check the Calendar

Make sure you file the FAFSA by the due date for your college and state to be considered for federal and private loans, as well as federal and private scholarships. Check to see if the college you plan to attend or currently attend also has additional financial aid forms to file, and get those submitted by the college’s deadline.

Some colleges also require a CSS profile to be completed online through the College Board. Make sure you’re well aware of what needs to be filed and by when. It doesn’t pay to wait until the last minute to file any financial aid form. Do it as early as possible, and well before the deadline, if you can. Financial aid money does run out.

Ask Away

The financial aid process can be mysterious. If this is the first time your child is applying, don’t be afraid to ask questions. FAFSA representatives are available online, by phone and e-mail. You can also turn to the financial aid office of your prospective or current school. If the college wants more information about your financial circumstances, provide it as soon as possible.Don’t Wait, Estimate

You might need to fill out the FAFSA before you complete your federal income taxes. But you do need the info from your income tax forms in order to fill in the FAFSA. So, what do you do? Make strong estimates and meet the FAFSA deadline, or your child runs the serious risk of losing out on all types of financial aid. When you file the finalized version of your income taxes, you can update and revise the FAFSA online.

Know Where to Start

Before your children qualify for any kind of aid, they’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA. The U.S. Department of Education uses the financial information provided in the FAFSA to see if your child qualifies for a federal loan or grant. Most state authorities, along with colleges and universities, will not offer grants and scholarships without completion of the FAFSA. Some private lenders require it, as well.

Even if you or your kids doubt you will qualify for some type of aid, fill the FAFSA out anyway. Given the high cost of college today, it’s very likely that your child will get some type of aid. Complete the FAFSA online here.

Do Some Prep Work

The time to have “The Talk” about student loans is before your student takes out their first one. The US Department of Education offers helpful advice online at Student.govthat can start the conversation. If you’re looking for a simple way to describe interest or how it’s calculated, the FAFSA site can help you do it. Take the time to sit down with your child and look through the various types of loans offered and the terms of each. There’s also a description of federal student loans vs. private student loans. Ask your bank representative for their current terms and rates on their private student loans.

Be Part of the Process

Yes, your new college students may be of legal age. But the world of lending is likely unfamiliar to them. Helping them to understand the ins and outs of the student loan process is a wise idea. Start with the basics. Make sure your child is well aware of the different types of loans out there. Each and every loan comes with set terms, so give your kid the details of current rates on federal loans and private ones. If and when you talk with your bank representative for additional details on private student loans, have your child be a part of the process, if possible.

Do You Qualify?

If you’re looking for financial aid, you’ll need to demonstrate financial need. But don’t let that phrase deter you from filing a FAFSA and looking for aid. With the high cost of college, even middle class people are getting some type of aid. If you’re looking for a federal or private loan, you’ll need to be enrolled in an eligible degree program at the college.

You will need to be a US citizen or an eligible noncitizen. To find out if you are an eligible noncitizen, look online FAFSA.ed.gov. Besides that, you’ll need a Social Security number. Guys between the ages of 18 and 25 have to be registered with the Selective Service. And, obviously, you’ll need to be accepted into a college or university and enroll at least on a part-time basis.

Minimize the Debt

But before your children sign on the dotted line, help them find as many outside scholarships as possible, so that they’ll minimize their debt load. If they are headed to college for the first time, sit down with their high school guidance counselors to seek help in finding private scholarships. Search online to get details too. If your children are already in college, make sure they talk with their school’s financial aid department for information on private scholarships.

The college or university probably has its own list of the available private scholarships out there, so ask for the information. And make sure your kids are well aware of the things they need to do to qualify for private scholarships directly from the college.

What Happens to Your 529 Funds if Your Child Skips College?

We thank Herman Davis, Regional Vice President for Liberty Bank, for sharing content from The Liberty Line, a publication of Liberty Bank.

It’s a question that bothers many parents who have opened 529 college savings funds for their kids, or are considering doing so: What happens to my money if my child doesn’t go to college? Fortunately, 529 funds aren’t a “use-it-or-lose-it” proposition. Even if your child decides not to attend college, you have more options for your 529 savings funds than you might expect.

Benefits of a 529 Savings Fund

A 529 fund is a tax-advantaged account you can establish to invest money for your child’s (or other relative’s) college education. You can open 529 accounts at many banks and investment firms, and have numerous options for investing your money.

Some states offer state tax deductions for 529 account deposits. And in most cases, you won’t owe state taxes on your account withdrawals and investment earnings, either. However, the main benefit of such plans is that withdrawals and earnings are exempt from federal taxes — so long as the money is used to pay for what the IRS considers “qualified” college expenses.

“Qualified” college expenses typically include tuition, mandatory fees, books, supplies, computers, and room and board up to the amount the college lists in its “cost of attendance” list.

5 Other Ways to Use 529 Savings Funds

If you’re worried that your child may follow a path that doesn’t include college, here are several options for the money in your 529 account:

1. Let another college-bound relative use it. This entails changing your plan’s beneficiary — the person who will use the money to pay education expenses — to another family member. This could be another child (such as your niece or grandson) or a close adult relative, or his or her spouse (such as your sister or brother-in-law).

2. Use the money yourself. Have you or your spouse considered returning to college or getting an advanced degree? If you name yourself or your spouse as the new 529 fund beneficiary, you can use the money for qualified higher-education expenses.

3. Be patient. Your child may still decide to go to college after first spending some time in the workforce. Unless your plan restricts how long the account may remain open, you typically can leave the funds invested for years. They’ll be ready to use if your child has a change of heart later on.

4. Think outside the box. Higher education includes more than traditional colleges and universities. Your child can also use 529 funds to pay for technical and other qualifying professional schools — as long as the institution participates in financial aid programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. You may be surprised to learn that professional golf academies and other unusual programs sometimes qualify!

5. Withdraw the money — at a price. You’re always allowed to take out the money and close your 529 account. The catch is that you’ll pay federal and state taxes on any account contributions, plus a 10% tax penalty on any earnings. (The penalty is for not using the money for higher education.)

If withdrawal is your only viable option, consider removing the money in a year when you’re in a lower tax bracket (such as during retirement). In the unfortunate event that your beneficiary dies or becomes disabled and can’t use the funds for college, you can withdraw the money without paying the extra 10% penalty. However, you’ll still owe taxes on contributions and earnings.

As you can see, 529 plan account holders never “lose” money because their child decides against college. Ask your banker or a college financial aid representative if you have more questions about 529 college savings funds.

Save the Date: TIF Town Hall Meeting November 2, 2016

Do you ever wonder how TIF’s work, or much money goes into North Lawndale TIF districts? We will host a TIF town hall meeting on November 2, 2016, from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm at a location to be determined.  We will provide an overview of every TIF in North Lawndale, including their goals and objectives, major projects, how much money each TIF has collected and how much has been spent. This meeting is being sponsored by our Economic Development, Infrastructure and Transportation subcommittees.  For further information, contact Audrey Dunford, Vice Chair of the Infrastructure Subcommittee at audrey.dunford@gmail.com.

Looking for Developers With Experience Working With Community Benefits Agreements in Low Income Minority Communities

Do you know developers in Chicago who have a demonstrated track record working with low income minority communities who have entered into legally binding community benefits agreements? If so, please share their names and contact information. NLCCC will be hosting a panel discussion on community benefits agreements, featuring an attorney, developer and community activists who have successfully worked on community benefits agreements in Chicago. I will share their information with the committee working on the program.

Thanks in advance.

Valerie F. Leonard