CHICAGO, IL – The Center for Economic Progress (CEP) hosted Commonwealth and America Saves for an event that celebrated the winners of the 2016 SaveYourRefund Promotion. Grand Prize Photo Contest winner Ebony Brown-Parks of Elgin, IL and five other weekly prize winners were recognized.
SaveYourRefund incentivizes savings at tax time by offering cash prizes for filers who save at least $50 of their tax refund into a qualified savings product using Form 8888. In 2016, over 2,700 tax filers entered SaveYourRefund and saved over $2.2 million. Of those filers, more than 300 also contributed submissions to the $25,000 Grand Prize Contest which asked them to share their motivations for savings through a captioned photograph.
This year, Commonwealth partnered with America Saves to expand the reach of SaveYourRefund and promote the program nationally. “Promoting SaveYourRefund fit in perfectly with the America Saves mission to encourage and promote saving. We knew this was a great opportunity to motivate more people to take financial action and save at tax time. We are pleased and excited to help celebrate all the winners and taxpayers who chose to split their refund and save this past tax season,” said Nancy Register, America Saves Director.
As one of the largest and longest-standing partners of SaveYourRefund, CEP was a natural fit to host the event in Chicago. “We were thrilled to learn that Ebony lives in Elgin, one of fifteen communities where CEP offers its free tax and financial services. We are strongly committed to tax-time savings and celebrate Ebony’s achievement,” said David Marzahl, CEO of CEP. “This moment reminds us that the savings crisis is both a local and national issue.”
CEP promotes savings at tax time and encourages families to enter SaveYourRefund as part of their “Life Happens, Save for It” efforts - a campaign that underscores the organization’s commitment to building long-term financial stability among the thousands of families that it serves. CEP served over 580 of the SaveYourRefund entrants in 2016 through its network of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites.
“The moments leading up to today’s event have been very surreal, as I never imagined that something as great as this could happen to me,” said winner Ebony Brown-Parks. In her remarks, Mrs. Brown-Parks detailed her personal experiences managing periods of unemployment, overcoming substantial amounts of debt, and surviving a host of other financial woes. “Today, I try to educate others, especially my family, on all that I have learned on this journey whether it’s saving for an emergency, paying off debt, or funding retirement.”
Mrs. Brown-Parks has entered SaveYourRefund every year since its inception in 2013; however, she had never won before. This stroke of luck is well-timed as the family will soon welcome their third child. Mrs. Brown-Parks intends to put the winnings towards the purchase of the family’s first home.
“To say that Ebony’s story is inspiring is an understatement, and we are honored that she was willing to share that story with us today,” said Timothy Flacke, Executive Director at Commonwealth, as he presented Mrs. Brown-Parks with her grand prize check. “Today is also a day to recognize the many partners who have made SaveYourRefund a success. Tackling substantial issues takes working together in creative ways and we are grateful for the diverse group of organizations that have coalesced to advance the national conversation on savings at tax time.”
In four years, SaveYourRefund has encouraged over 9,000 Americans to save more than $7.5 million of their tax refunds using Form 8888. Additionally, SaveYourRefund participants have leveraged Form 8888 to purchase over 2,500 U.S. Savings Bonds totaling $590,000 in savings.
We would like to thank the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Intuit Foundation for their support of Save Your Refund 2016.
For information on the SaveYourRefund promotion, please visit www.SaveYourRefund.com.