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The Benefit Bank ™ Launches in Philadelphia, Florida, Wichita

January 27, 2005, PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Each year, millions of individuals and families fail to receive the money and benefits due to them and -- as a result -- more than $35 billion in government benefits go unclaimed annually.  The Benefit Bank, a new project of which the National Council of Churches is a founding supporter, helps to connect people to these resources.

The Benefit Bank ™ (TBB) is an internet-based, counselor-assisted program that helps low- and moderate-income individuals and families file for tax credits and benefits for which they are eligible.  On January 27, TBB was launched in sites throughout the Greater Philadelphia area.  More than 60 social and community service agencies from throughout Philadelphia gathered at Project H.O.M.E., the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Lab, to celebrate TBB's launch there.

TBB will launch officially in the Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Hillsborough & Pinellas Counties of Florida on February 1.  In Wichita, KS select sites will begin using TBB to file federal income tax.

Created by Philadelphia-based Solutions for Progress, The Benefit Bank was designed to help people overcome barriers that have prevented them from taking advantage of programs that can help strengthen their economic condition, according to Solutions for Progress CEO, Robert J. Brand.

“These are tough times for all of us, but many families are struggling more than others simply because they’re not receiving the benefits that they should,” Brand said. “Some individuals think they are not eligible for certain benefits, others get lost in the complex application process or they are simply unaware the benefits even exist. The Benefit Bank™ provides an easy and efficient way to get the benefits to those who need them the most.”

How The Benefit Bank Works

The Benefit Bank ™ is the only system available that can process federal tax returns, state tax returns and a range of federal and public sponsored health and social service benefits.  Individuals sit side-by-side with counselors who assist them with entering information into an internet-based system. As the client enters data with the counselor for one form, it automatically transfers that information into another form or benefit.  Once the client provides all necessary information, The Benefit Bank fills out the application and prints it or the tax return out on their proper forms.  It even e-files returns and applications when possible. 

Free to all users and free to host organizations; The Benefit Bank is made available for use in social service agencies, faith-based institution, community organizations and private employer sites.

What Benefits Are Available through TBB?

Currently, individuals and families can:

·                     File Federal and State Taxes including Earned Income Credit, Child & Dependent Care Credit, Child Tax Credit, Additional Child Tax Credit, Hope & Life Time Learning Education Credit as well as file amended and back taxes up to three years.

·                     Apply for Food Stamps, Child Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) including coverage for parents, Child Care Subsidy, Medicaid, Pharmaceutical Coverage for the Elderly, Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) and Voter Registration.

The Benefit Bank is a program of Solutions for Progress, Inc., a public policy consulting firm working for social change.  The program receives support from foundations and other funders through the National Council of Churches USA, a founding supporter of The Benefit Bank, and through the Jewish Council on Public Affairs.  The NCC, the nation’s leading ecumenical body, carries out a broad program for unity and justice on behalf of its 36 member churches (denominations) and their 45 million adherents.  

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For more information, visit www.TheBenefitBank.com

MEDIA CONTACT:   Leslie Winder at lwinder@solfopro.com


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