Community Reflections & An Invitation to Celebrate with Us

It’s our 20th anniversary!

We can hardly believe it’s already been twenty years since we opened our doors in the South Bronx. Our Founder and first Executive Director, Kelly Dillon, and her successor Diana Breen worked tirelessly to earn the trust of families, community-based organizations, and funders and build our organizational foundation.

“Ariva was my baby. It was so rewarding to help people. We worked hard to build trust in the community, supporting single moms and kids,” says Kelly.

Launched as a financial literacy and resource center in the South Bronx, our mission of financial inclusion has remained steady since day one: help people get banked, and provide easy and free access to tax preparation, ITIN application filing, and financial counseling. Just this year, we also launched our Small Business Program and, with the leadership of Sharon Fortis, have already expanded the program to serve the community at La Ventanilla

Since we opened our doors in 2003, the Ariva team has completed 134,579 tax returns and helped 25,070 people receive free financial counseling. We can’t do this work without mission-aligned collaboration, and we are immensely grateful for the community partners, funders, volunteers, board members, and hardworking team members who give their time, money, and expertise to keep Ariva running.

Alongside collaborative community partners, we have expanded from our first site hosted by Spring Bank in the South Bronx to more than 15 in-person and virtual program locations operating in some of New York City’s lowest-income neighborhoods, including Mott Haven, Hunts Point, Soundview, Morrisania, and Highbridge. Our community has a high need for the services Ariva, and our partners offer. Highbridge, the community where we are headquartered in the South Bronx, is in one of the poorest Congressional Districts in the country, with a poverty rate of almost thirty three%percent; more than a third of the seniors in our community fall below the poverty line, and forty percent of our children.

Our strategic priority continues to be to serve people and families in the Bronx who are low-income, recent immigrants, and others who may experience financial exclusion. To give you an idea of who we work with, 95 percent of our clients are low-income, with 23 percent having an adjusted household gross of less than $10,000 and 90 percent having a household income of less than $40,000. The average family income at our different program sites ranges from $18,000 to $23,000.

“How can you support a family on $23,000?” asks Irene Baldwin, our Executive Director. “Our communities deserve economic justice, opportunity, and inclusion, and we remain committed to this vision. Twenty years since we started, we have been a trusted resource in the Bronx, and we owe it to the community leaders before us to build on their achievements. We are proud to have expanded from one location to 15 with a committed team, board, and more than a hundred volunteers. Yet, there’s still a lot to do in the Bronx.”

As our team, board members, volunteers, clients, and community partners shared their reflections on the impact of our work in their lives and communities over the last twenty years, we discovered a few key learnings:

Financial Security & Confidence: Our clients have gained invaluable knowledge and practical application of money management, savings, and credit building.

“Ariva has helped me realize I needed to make my credit better and save more money, and I’ve done both,” says Carlene, an Ariva client.

“He aprendido la importancia de tener dinero en el banco para emergencias. Cuando lo tenemos todo en el bolsillo hay una tendencia de gastarlo en bobadas.” –Thiago, cliente de Ariva

Partnerships & Community Impact: We have built trusting, collaborative relationships with other community-based organizations and leaders to localize our work and to maintain connection and trust with diverse communities.

“We have a voice. Together with our partners, we use it, and we’ve won those fights and have seen change because of it,” says Adelaida Morin, Sr. Program Director.

A Connected & Supportive Community: As a trusted Bronx resource, many of our clients return year after year. We help people work toward financial health & wealth and also invite them to join our supportive community of dedicated staff, volunteers, clients, board members, partners, and donors.

“Our advice is friendly, timely, and trustworthy. A satisfied client not only returns but also tells others about it. Word of mouth is how the Ariva community has grown,” says Elizabeth Gomez Castrillon, an Ariva Financial Counselor. 

We Invite You to Celebrate with Us!

Join us in our celebrations and learn more about the work of financial inclusion and our mission of economic justice in New York City by attending our free “Advancing Economic Justice” Linkedin Live Series. This three-part virtual series includes one-hour luncheon discussions with community partners with sponsorship opportunities available.

  • Episode 1: “Supporting NYC Entrepreneurs” with Myriam E. Rebling, Executive Director of Qualitas of Life, September 14th, 2023. RSVP here.
  • Episode 2: “20 Years Partnering for Social Change & Financial Inclusion in The Bronx” with Demetris Giannoulis, CEO of Spring Bank, October 18th, 2023.
  • Episode 3: Adelaida Morin with special guests 

We invite you to join us! Together with our partners, we will dive into the following:

  • What financial inclusion means and how business and mission-driven professionals are uniting to create access for Communities of Color across NYC
  • The financial impacts of redlining and systemic racism in the Bronx
  • How immigrant communities are navigating New York City’s financial systems
  • How free tax preparation & financial counseling supports families and changes lives
  • The importance of community-based, community-driven services to best meet community needs.
  • The invaluable efforts of strategic, localized, targeted partnerships
  • Why Ariva prioritizes services for the most vulnerable people in the Bronx.
  • La Ventanilla and the financial literacy work of the Mexican Consulate
  • How entrepreneurship contributes to financial inclusion and economic justice

RSVP here.

Learn more about how your company can sponsor Ariva’s 20 Years of Advancing Economic Justice through sponsorship of the LinkedinLive Series, the annual Toast to Ariva gathering, or year-round support.