Prosperi-Key, a venture supported by the United Way of Western Connecticut, connects people nationwide with local and national products, services, and discounts, including Personal Financial Coaches from TrustPlus.
United Way of Western Connecticut CEO Kim Morgan stays busy. She’s also CEO of Prosperity Digital Marketplace which recently launched the new online platform Prosperi-Key to bring together businesses, nonprofits, the products and services they provide, and working people living paycheck to paycheck.
We spoke to Kim about the genesis of Prosperi-Key, partnering with TrustPlus to make personal finance coaching widely available nationwide, and scaling with local and national partners.
What is Prosperi-Key?
We launched Prosperi-Key in August for people who live paycheck to paycheck. We’ve created a marketplace online where people can go and find social services, local businesses, and national products that offer a discount.
It really is a club, not a charity. When you come to ProsperiKey.org, it’s a combination of GoFundMe, Groupon, and Amazon, delivered with dignity and confidentiality. We’re cognizant of delivering things that will really make a difference quickly.
We’re trying to help people in their day to day, maybe that’s 50% off an oil change, and for the long term, Prosperi-Key members can find resources like TrustPlus personal financial coaching — to help with managing debt and building credit and savings — vocational training, and childcare, things like that.
Who’s eligible, who’s ALICE?
We started talking with the population that we call ALICE which stands for asset limited, income constrained, employed: people who live above the federal poverty level but don’t make enough to make ends meet. They make a little bit too much to access a lot of federal and state safety net benefits.
As we began talking with families that were in this situation, we found that the traditional social service system didn’t really work for them because they were working multiple jobs trying to take care of their families.
We decided that we needed to redesign the way we delivered some services, things like getting people shopping in the grocery store instead of going to a food bank, and providing discounts and funding for fresh produce, or supporting music, sports, and arts for kids, activities that have become so expensive that kids are losing out on opportunities for scholarships, skill building, and networking with more affluent peers.
The challenge was that we did not have a way to determine who would be eligible. There was no income verification or qualification for this population. And we wanted to scale our programs. When we looked for a solution there wasn’t one out there. So we decided we had to build it, with income qualifications based on where you live, who’s in your household and what your income is. And if you’re determined to be eligible then you become a key member with access to all these offers and services for both the short and long term.
Why partner with TrustPlus?
Our members, people who are struggling and living paycheck to paycheck, are some of the smartest people I know with budgeting. They have figured out how to get by, but it is a struggle, and it adds stress every single month.
People who have money are using financial advisors and investment firms and they’re getting guidance all the time. So we offer our members a Financial Coach from TrustPlus who can say, what are your dreams? Where do you want to go? Do you want to be able to pay for your children to go to college? Do you hope to retire? Financial Coaches can help you achieve those goals.
We’ve been fortunate to be working with TrustPlus in Connecticut for a number of years. What I love about TrustPlus is the ease of use. You click on the site and immediately you’re able to set up an appointment. You can choose your coach. They speak multiple languages. If English isn’t your first language, then you can feel comfortable finding and talking with a Financial Coach to start looking at where your finances are.
What was the genesis of Prosperi-Key?
Prosperi-Key came out of trying to solve a problem first and foremost to scale some of our local programs in Western Connecticut with the United Way. As we began to explore and realize that we had to build something, we decided that we shouldn’t build for 15 towns in Western Connecticut. It was going to take too much investment and effort, and we also need to generate revenue in a new way.
We built a model where United Ways and other nonprofits can partner with us on the site. They can bring in their relationships with local businesses and sponsors to support their work.
We do a revenue share model so our partners share in that revenue and we keep it local. That allows us to have a deeper reach into the community as opposed to having only national programs on the site. When you’re local, you know the pizza place or grocery store or your women’s center or your childcare centers. They’re what make a community. And that’s where people are accessing products and services every day.
People need to know where they can find something now and that it’s close and accessible so we partnered and created a model where we can expand across the country and have those deep roots in the community, leveraging the United Way network.
So if you’re a small business and you have a service or a product that you can offer at a discount, give us a call. We create an offer for these families that also supports your business, that drives people to your business, and Prosperi-Key is flexible enough that you can offer what works best for your business.
We’re looking for nonprofits and businesses who are making a difference in the community and who can serve the ALICE population to raise their hand and say, come on in — we can help you.