“It is the collective effort of community organizations, funders, staff, and volunteers which work the magic in delivering our services. We need all of us together to do this important work.” — Irene Baldwin, Ariva Executive Director
Our mission is always to bring economic justice, opportunity, and inclusion to our Bronx neighbors and other communities in New York City. We believe that financial knowledge is a right: no one should be excluded from the system because of a lack of access.
Thanks to the support from our staff, volunteers, and community partners, our services improve the financial capabilities of New Yorkers from all boroughs and backgrounds. Our NYC free tax prep and financial counseling NYC programs are breaking down barriers to make safe, affordable financial services and products accessible to all.
Challenging times are when we are needed the most. So many of the people we serve come to us during a difficult time in their lives. Whether they have been victims of identity theft or fraud, have newly immigrated to the United States, are struggling to make ends meet on a fixed retirement income, or are experiencing homelessness, all have overcome hardship.
In 2022, we navigated a hybrid-model tax season through teamwork and innovative strategy, continuing our drop-off and virtual services while providing in-person services in ten locations, six of which had been closed since the beginning of the pandemic. We also established new partnerships with Webster Bank and Pelham Parkway Library that served 100 families! Together with our partners and volunteers, we helped our community file their taxes, access special tax credits, and make the most of their refunds.
During a four-month campaign, we successfully recruited and virtually trained our volunteer team to serve thousands of hours from their homes. Our volunteers helped prepare client tax returns while also receiving unique benefits from our volunteer program.
We also launched a new paid internship program, supporting the next generation and introducing them to our nonprofit world. We have two interns, Susanna and Adam, who have been with us full time since October 2022 and who provide valuable assistance in our tax program as they learn about the different functions of a nonprofit organization.
We commit to the growth of our community through shared resources. We filed a total of 6,850 tax returns, 411 new ITIN applications, and 133 ITIN renewals. Additionally, 1,516 clients qualified for the Child Tax Credit, and 1,655 people qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
We take pride in being a space for our community to shift their finances into a positive and hopeful outlook, and establishing a sustainable financial future for our neighborhood goes beyond free tax preparation NYC. Our free financial help provides our clients with personalized advice in financial literacy and money management to help them reach their short and long-term goals. In 2022, we hosted 4,629 financial education sessions with more than 3,471 clients. We held 1,383 Ready to Rent sessions at our own offices and alongside community partners, including La Ventanilla at the Mexican Consulate, Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS), East Harlem People’s Federal Credit Union, Legal Hand Crown Heights, and Legal Hand Jamaica.
We wouldn’t be able to offer education, accessibility, and empowerment without local partnerships. Alongside the Mexican Consulate of New York, we welcomed M&T Bank to our La Ventanilla program which supports the financial well-being of the Mexican community in New York. We are also very happy to share that Mother Cabrini Health Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to Ariva to support La Ventanilla. This expanded partnership allows us to continue to provide high quality services and to increase our support to micro-entrepreneurs within the community who have the potential to create wider impact through business creation.
“People who come here feel at home. We serve them in Spanish. They feel the comfort of the Mexican government supporting them, so they know that this is a trustworthy organization. Plus, the amount of people I see coming here every day asking for the services of La Ventanilla is high. It’s important to have this kind of counseling here at the Consulate,” says Laila Figueroa, Asuntos Comunitarios at the Mexican Consulate.
Our team provided 1,150 financial counseling sessions at the Consulate. In addition to NYC tax prep, we also connected the community to other programs, such as the Excluded Workers Fund, the Ready to Rent program, and our ITIN application services.
Last year, we launched a very important initiative at our West Farms location: financial counseling for micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses through our new Small Business Program. In response to many requests from our community, we have built these additional supports into our financial counseling offerings. Through this work, we are connecting entrepreneurs with business development workshops and one-on-one business consultations, and hope to expand this offering to other locations in the coming months and years.
We also made an investment to better connect with both our community and our champions through a digital communications strategy with help from our brand & content agency, B Storytelling. Leveraging social media, email, texting, and our own blog, Ariva is consistently promoting all of our work in both English and Spanish for the first time, allowing us to better reach, assist, and work with our clients. We invite you to explore our brand new Spanish language website.
It takes compassion, collectivism, and ambition to do our work. We’re thankful to our staff, volunteers, partners, board, and donors who make this possible. As we reflect on our impact so far, we also look forward to what we can accomplish together in the future.