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Harvard center lauds CA$H Coalition

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government recently recognized the L-A CA$H Coalition as one of its 2015 “Bright Ideas in Government.”

The City of Lewiston facilitated the launching of the L-A CA$H “community team” partnership in 2003 after then-Lewiston City Councilors Renee Bernier, Lillian O’Brien and Ronald Jean attended an informational meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston regarding the use of free tax return preparation to promote the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Since then, the L-A CA$H Coalition has brought together local governments, non-profits and volunteers each tax season to help low-to-moderate income residents achieve self-sufficiency. They have done this by providing free and effective preparation of Federal and State income tax returns and by providing participants with information on how to use their tax refund money to plan for financial goals, such as home ownership, higher education or starting a business. Since 2004, the group’s efforts have facilitated the return of over $22 million in Federal and State refunds to L-A-area families.

“It’s exciting that local government is making a difference,” said Lewiston Deputy City Administrator Phil Nadeau. “The L-A CA$H Coalition has become a well-known and respected resource in the community to help people get the tax credits they are eligible for each year and to present ways to make the most of that refund by planning for future financial goals.”

Initiatives recognized by the Ash Center this year include programs from all levels of government, including school district, county, city, state and federal, as well as public-private partnerships. Programs selected for recognition are at the forefront of creative response to issues familiar to many parts of the country, including revitalizing local economies, disaster response and preparedness, community policing and upgrading outdated infrastructure.

For consideration as a Bright Idea, programs must currently be in operation or in the process of launching, must have sufficient operational resources and must be administered by one or more governmental entities. Bright Ideas are showcased on the Ash Center’s Government Innovators Network, an online platform for practitioners and policymakers to share innovative public policy solutions.

Through its research, education, international programs, and government innovations awards, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information on the L-A CA$H Coalition, see www.lewistonmaine.gov/lacash.

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