Things That Matter

These Government Aid Programs Exist For You To Use Because Your Tax Dollars Pay For Them

There is a multitude of government aid programs that are part of what makes America great. We pay taxes specifically to create government (one that provides equity for all).

Before we dive into the programs, you should know that receiving government aid is far more common than you think. In 2012, more than 1 in 4 Americans benefitted from some kind of government assistance. When you look at the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 analysis of Latinos specifically, you’ll find that about 36 percent of Latinos participate in government aid. Now, here are some programs you might be unaware of but pay taxes to keep them going.

These programs are here for you, paid by you.

CREDIT: @TimGurung / Twitter

While President Trump claims that reliance on welfare “is out of control,” it has actually drastically declined since 1996, and the vast majority of recipients are children. If you’re reading this, we know you’re not a child and that you’re entitled to programs that make life more equitable.

1. American Music Abroad Program

CREDIT: @IndieWire / Twitter

That’s right. Your music group could be eligible to “foster cross-cultural communication with global audiences.” You’ll never know if you don’t find out.

2. Cell Biology and Biophysics Research and Research Training

CREDIT: @CamBiochem / Twitter

If you’re one of those brainy, bioscience people, then The Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics might sponsor you to conduct research to prevent, treat and cure diseases that come about from disturbed or abnormal cellular activity. Serve your country with sicence.

3. The Lifeline Program

CREDIT: @onthehoneyy / Twitter

Lifeline is an income-based program, so if you’re stretched thin, you might be eligible for discounted landline or cell phone services. Take what’s yours. The world is vastly connected through technology and lacking technology is the fastest way to be left behind.

4. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

CREDIT: @heating_guide / Twitter

There is simply no reason to go cold during cold snaps or sweat your physical energy away during heat waves because of costs. This program issues grants from the Department of Health and Human Services to help heat or cool your home.

5. Unclaimed.org

CREDIT: @BirchwoodInvest / Twitter

Don’t think of this as free money. It’s money that’s literally owed to you, that is turned over to the state when you can’t be found. Moved recently? You might have a forgotten deposit paid to a utility company or uncashed paycheck waiting for you to claim it at unclaimed.org

6. American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) Leadership Development Programs

CREDIT: @thehill / Twitter

Ok, I’m not saying that ACYPL put Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the map, but you could be the next AOC thanks to ACYPL. Participants are offered leadership training, international relations education, and the connections you need to become an up-and-coming global leader and policy maker.

7. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

CREDIT: @LouisianaDCFS / Twitter

SNAP is the largest federal nutrition assistance program and provides benefits to low-income folks with something that functions as an actual debit card. Whether you’re in the Los Angeles living struggle bus to pay rent, work at an underpaying non-profit or just have found yourself in a pinch, don’t pinch pennies around your health and nutrition. SNAP is here for you.

8. Identity Protection

CREDIT: @hurlinspiel / Twitter

Dwight’s right, which is why the U.S. government created the Identity Protection Program. When your name, Social Security Number is stolen, the IPP will resolve the crime and case for you.

9. The Child Care and Development Fund

CREDIT: @HoneyTWilton / Twitter

Child care is a growing, crippling cost for dual-income households. This fund gives states, territories and tribes money to distribute to low-income families to help pay for the child care of your choice. Just find the Child Care and Development Fund contact for your state.

10. Disaster Legal Services

CREDIT: @LucyWicken / Twitter

DLS offers legal assistance to low-income individuals who have been affected by a presidentially declared major disaster. Boricuas, this is for you.

This legal advice can help with insurance claims for doctor and hospital bills, property loss, home repair, and beef with your landlord.

11. Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program

CREDIT: SUPER BOWL WHATEVER GIF BY AMAZON / GIPHY

At the same time, communities affected by disaster desperately need crisis counseling. Puerto Rico, I see you. The CCP can train you to become a crisis counselor or offer access to one. Just call 1-800-621-FEMA.

12. Education Grants

CREDIT: @insidehighered / Twitter

College grants are goldmines for access to higher education, and an obvious choice for anyone without half a million dollars to drop on an education. Some major grants include:

  • The Pell Grant
  • The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
  • The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant
  • The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

Here’s how to get those grants.

13. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

CREDIT: @PDHScounseling / Twitter

We all know what FAFSA is, and there is no shame in using the federal student aid program to be able to afford outrageously expensive college tuition. Why let there be shame in any other aid program usage?

14. American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC)

CREDIT: @KTLA / Twitter

The AOTC will help reduce your tax obligations on expenses paid for the first four years of education post-high school. You can get an annual credit of $2,500 and even $1,000 refunded by the IRS if you owe no taxes. ????

15. Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

CREDIT: @agentyoo / Twitter

You’re done with school and in the workforce, congrats. JAN offers free expert assistance to employees and employers who require workplace accommodations for a disability or health-related issues.

Got terrible endometriosis coupled with debilitating cramps? I feel you, and JAN can tell you what you need to be acknowledged fairly by your employer for sick time.

16. Housing Counseling Assistance Program

CREDIT: @JonathanREdwar1 / Twitter

Most millennials aren’t even financially able to own a home, let alone pay an accountant for their expensive services. the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds housing counseling agencies across the country that will offer up advice on buying, renting, foreclosing, and more…for free.

17. Property Improvement Loan Insurance

CREDIT: @ArgoDevelopment / Twitter

According to our government, “The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) makes it easier for consumers to obtain affordable home improvement loans by insuring loans made by private lenders to improve properties that meet certain requirements. Lending institutions make loans from their own funds to eligible borrowers to finance these improvements.”

18. Health Insurance

CREDIT: @BoostHLTH / Twitter

Last but certainly not least is Obama’s parting gift to Americans: health insurance. Healthcare.gov will guide you on how to find affordable coverage that’s right for you.

You can find out what other benefits you’re eligible for at benefits.gov.

CREDIT: @OaklandResearch / Twitter

There, you can fill out a questionnaire that will generate a list of federal programs that you may be eligible for. I filled it out myself and found out I was eligible for 20+ programs.


READ: DREAMer Gets Hate After Telling The Internet ‘Undocumented Immigrants Pay Taxes Too’

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Investing Latina’s CEO Is Here To Tell You The Best Ways To Save You Money

Fierce

Investing Latina’s CEO Is Here To Tell You The Best Ways To Save You Money

investinglatina / Instagram

Saving money and investing it properly is tough. It is hard to know where to take your money to make the most of it. Fortunately, FIERCE is here with another chat with a money queen to make sure that you get the most of your money.

Jully-Alma Taveras is here to help you reach your money-saving goals.

Saving money is tough. How much should you set aside? Where do you keep it to make sure it is safe? When should you start? Taveras started Investing Latina two years ago to help people figure out the best way to start their savings journey. There are a lot of things to save for from retirement to big purchases to emergencies. Here is some of what Taveras had to say when our very own Sam sat down with her.

Sam: “Let’s talk about savings. What would you recommend people do to start saving today?”

Jully-Alma Taveras: “Savings is kind of the beginning of it all, right? It’s kind of where we start laying down the bricks and foundation to our financial house. When I say laying down bricks, that’s really what I mean. I mean that they are small and heavy but they build up. That’s exactly how you have to think about how you start saving. It really starts small. Nobody starts with $10,000 in their savings account. Nobody. Everybody starts putting in $25 per week. Fifty dollars per month. Whatever it is that you can do. You have to be able to just kind of put it aside.

“I always recommend using a savings account first. Your core savings account at a bank that you can easily access if you needed to access your savings and then having a bulb of savings to a high-yield saving account so that you can also use the technology that exists right now with high-yield savings accounts. You can have little envelopes so you are saving for designated things. You can save for specific goals.

“I think that when it comes to savings, you really do have to set a big goal for yourself, and then you kind of start working backward. Then you’re like, ‘Okay. My goal is to save $10,000 in 2021. That’s what I want to get to. I want to be able to have my 1,000 immediate little emergency need savings account with just $1,000 and then I want to have the rest into a high-yield savings account where I can really start building my money confidence. That’s what happens when we start saving money.”

S: “One of the things I know that we started chatting about was high-yield savings accounts. Can you go into some more details about what exactly that is for everyone?”

JAT: “When we talk about a high-yield savings account, it really is a way for you to put savings into a bank or institution, or nowadays it’s really just an app sometimes. You put it in a place,  secure place that’s FDIC-insured place, where you can get a higher interest rate than what typical savings accounts offer. When you open up a checking account, you’re automatically, or usually going to get the option of opening a savings account with our bank. The retail banks that we typically use, the ones that we can walk into, that we can have ATM cards you can easily access and have teller access are usually positioning themselves where they offer retail services.

“What happens with that is that they don’t give you a lot for holding onto your money. They’ll offer something like a free checking account or a free savings account. They won’t charge you for it depending on what category you’re in, especially teens or if you are in school. You can definitely get a free checking account. But, they won’t give a higher interest rate than likely .02 percent. What a high-yield savings account offers is a higher interest rate. These are usually with banks that you don’t normally see as you walk down Main Street in your neighborhood. We aren’t talking about the Chases the TD Banks the Citi Banks, right? These banks that we know and are familiar with because we see them on Main Street. We see them in our neighborhoods. They’re not typically going to have a high-yield savings account. They want you to just use their services, their savings accounts, and their checking accounts. That’s it and they’re just going to be happy holding on to your money while you transact and do what you have to do with your money.

“With high-yield savings accounts, those are typically going to be with banks that don’t have retail stores. Some examples are Marcus by Goldman Sachs. SoFi, which is one of my favorites because of the tech that they’ve implemented in their app and their website. Ally Bank. These are banks that we typically won’t see actual physical banks of but they do exist online.

“What they do, mechanically, just so you kind of understand what happens when you put money into a high-yield savings account, is truly, they’re actually, putting all of our money together and they’re kind of investing our money behind the scenes. That’s what happens. You have the security of your digitized dollars and you will never lose it because it’s not an investment account.

“That’s basically what’s happening. Just so you know. You can feel safe that your money is there. It’s FDIC insured or it is completely insured up to the $250,000. That’s typically what we get insurance on. Then you also make a little extra so you make a couple of dollars every month.”

Taveras has so much more to say about saving and investing. Watch the full video below!

READ: In The First Episode Of FIERCE’s ‘Money Moves,’ We Explore The All-Important Budget

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Cuban Government Backtracks On Historic Deal With Protesters Just Days After Reaching An Agreement

Things That Matter

Cuban Government Backtracks On Historic Deal With Protesters Just Days After Reaching An Agreement

Alexandre Meneghini / Getty Images

It seemed that many Cuban’s hopes for greater freedom of expression – particularly in the art world – seems to have been dashed again. In less than 24 hours after apparently agreeing to meet several demands from dissident artists, the government broke at least three of the five agreements in had made.

Freedom of expression is a hot topic in Cuba, where the communist regime severely limits what artists can say and produce.

But even more rare: public protest. That’s what makes these recent marches in Havana so important, the island hasn’t seen anything like it in decades. And as almost on script, the Cuban government flipped on its public reaction to the growing movement, instead blaming it on “U.S. imperialism” and foreign intervention.

Cuban officials have completely condemned the protest movement in a full 180º change of attitude.

Over the weekend, Cuba saw unprecedented protests led by dissident artists and creatives – known as the San Isidro movement – seeking greater freedom of expression. And although it seemed early on that the group may have made progress (the government agreed to several concessions), those hopes went up in flames as the government launched an all-out rhetorical assault.

Shortly after the meeting between protesters and officials, the protest came to a peaceful end with leaders thinking they achieved what they had set out to do, and with a meeting to discuss the issues further.

But just hours later the government called in the top U.S. diplomat on the island, charge de affairs Timothy Zúñiga-Brown, for a scolding over “grave interference in Cuba’s internal affairs” as state television ran a 90-minute special attacking members of the protest group and broadcasting visuals of their interactions with U.S. diplomats and Miami exiles.

“Sovereign Cuba accepts no interference … The revolutionary ones will fight back,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in one of a series of Twitter posts accusing the San Isidro movement of being a “reality show” on social media created by “U.S. imperialists.”

What originally seemed like progress now seems like business as usual for the communist regime.

Credit: Yamil Lapage / AFP / Getty Images

It seemed, at least for a few short hours, that there was a real chance at bolstering artistic freedom in Cuba. The group of protesters, known as the San Isidro movement, gathered outside the culture ministry, leading Fernando Rojas, the deputy culture minister, to invite in a group of 30 of them. The meeting lasted for more than four hours, those present have said, and resulted in a promise of greater freedoms for artists.

Writer Katherine Bisquet told the press afterward that there had been a “truce for independent spaces” where activists could meet and talk, and that further discussions were promised.

“I cannot emphasize enough that this kind of public protest, with hundreds of people standing outside a ministry for 14 hours, is unprecedented,” Cuban-American artist Coco Fusco told Artnet News. “The fact that government officials conceded to a meeting is in itself a victory for the artists and a sign of weakness on the part of the government.”

The government had also agreed to urgently review the case of a detained member of the San Isidro crew and a rapper sentenced this month to eight months in jail on charges of contempt. It also agreed to ensure independent artists in the future were not harassed.

Cuban officials blamed the U.S. for stirring up dissent.

Shortly after the government launched a verbal assault on the group, it also accused the U.S. of helping them. Officials at the Foreign Ministry summoned the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, Chargé d’Affaires Timothy Zuñiga-Brown, and complained about U.S. “intervention.”

At Sunday’s rally, Díaz Canel said that “Trumpistas” (referring to the Trump administration) and the “anti-Cuban mafia that are now ‘Trumpistas'” (referring to Cuban American Trump supporters in Miami) “had on their agenda that before the year ends, the revolutions of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have to fall.”

Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden’s national security adviser, tweeted Sunday: “We support the Cuban people in their struggle for liberty and echo calls for the Cuban government to release peaceful protestors. The Cuban people must be allowed to exercise the universal right to freedom of expression.”

Thanks to an imploding economy in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Cuba is experiencing an unprecedented crisis.

Credit: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo photo/Getty Images

Cuba is going through dire shortages in food and basic goods amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has practically halted tourism to the island, on top of the Trump administration’s harsh sanctions.

Against that backdrop, García said, “I think the government should think about these things and view dialogue as a valid option to avoid a major disaster.”

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