Helping Immigrants Prosper

A Tampa Bay area program offers classes on financial literacy and is helping immigrants integrate and flourish in the U.S.

Last week, a small group of immigrants met in a classroom at the Tomlinson Adult Learning Center for a Project Prosper financial literacy class. Over the past weeks, the students in the school's English for Speakers of Other Languages have been learning about checking accounts, budgeting, saving, credit reports and protecting themselves against identity theft and fraud.

Besides financial literacy, Project Prosper provides small no-interest loans of up to $1,500 to eligible applicants in South or mid-Pinellas County who have lived in the United States for eight years or less. Borrowers also are required to save a certain amount of money, equivalent to 10 percent of their monthly payments, each month.

"Provided that they have made timely payments on their loan and they've taken a financial literacy class, then we'll match their savings,'' said Warren, president of Project Prosper.

"One of the beauties of this, as each person pays back their loan, they are making funds available for the next person to borrow. So far, we've not had to turn down anyone because of lack of funds,'' Warren said.

 We need more programs like this that help immigrants succeed in our country, rather than pushing them into the shadows.