This legislative session, Prepare + Prosper (P+P) is working on three priorities at the state level: greater funding for free tax prep and integrated financial services programs across Minnesota, an increase to the Working Family Credit, and funding for our FAIR initiative aimed at tackling the financial inclusion issue so many face, particularly those from communities of color. P+P is also supporting an important consumer protection bill that would regulate payday lending in Minnesota by capping interest rates and changing key terms and conditions. We have been and will continue to testify at the Capitol in support of these priorities.

On Tuesday, Anne Leland Clark, director of financial capability + learning, and Julie, a FAIR credit builder user, testified in the House of Representatives in support of our FAIR bill. Below is Julie’s testimony.

Good morning. My name is Julie and I am currently a small business owner, a partner in another small business, as well as in transition from one salaried position to another. While I am a teacher by trade, I have worked in the field of youth and human development for the majority of my career. My work has largely been in the out of school time realm and that has taken me across several systems and institutions including education—both public and private, juvenile justice, children’s mental health, gang outreach, and non-profits. I sit on several boards and am active in my son’s activities.

Before I learned about FAIR, I learned about Prepare + Prosper. I spent about one year unemployed and rather than look for work, I joined CLIMB, and spent the year building my consulting business. My case worker through that program knew that my most important goal was to build my credit score.

It was clear to me that a high credit score was critical to building opportunities and wealth for myself and my son. She recommended Prepare + Prosper to me and I immediately joined.

Through them, I was able to work with a financial coach to prioritize the steps needed to reach my goals. He provided accountability, reflective questions, and information that helped me make better, informed decisions. I learned about the FAIR program through him. I currently use the credit builder.

Credit scores can be confusing and hard to control, and products that help you build your score are needed.

In spite of paying all my bills on time and using my bank-issued credit card in a way most beneficial to me (10-30% of the total spending limit, payed off in full each month), my credit score still seemed to bounce around. We would do a soft pull and it would give me one number, and the when I tried to knock out another goal, such as lower my interest rate on my car loan, it would show up much lower.

We decided that FAIR would be a great additional mechanism to influence my score. The added bonus of the credit builder helping you build savings at the same time doesn’t hurt either.

My credit score has indeed risen. I was able to ditch the corporate auto loan and move it to my credit union at a much lower rate. Because of our conversations around maximum financial impact, I am also about to pay off my down payment assistance mortgage which will allow me to refinance my regular mortgage at a lower rate, as well.

I am very thankful to FAIR and Prepare + Prosper. As a single parent, I don’t have a partner at home to discuss financial issues with. And while my son is bright, he is still learning how to give excellent financial advice.

These opportunities will be generation-changing.

It is already having an immediate impact both financially, and in the conversations I am able to have with my son. He will enter adulthood much more prepared to handle his financial responsibilities and goals, which will continue to impact generations of Richards to come.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story with you all. I appreciate what you have done and what you continue to do for the community. As you all know, change cannot just happen at an individual level, but must take place systemically and institutionally.

As the middle class continues to shrink, more people like me will also need to have support in order to create and pass along generational wealth, instead of debt.

If you’d like to join our action list to support these legislative priorities and future ones, email Shannon at If you’re interested in getting FAIR accounts, visit our website or reach out to Brian at