Our 2019 VITACon Was a Success!

Last month, over two hundred practitioners, researchers and stakeholders from the community tax preparation field traveled to Denver, CO for VITACon 2019.  The two-day event included the Tax Time Financial Capability Research Symposium, VITA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and general VITACon workshops. We came together to share information, to learn and network, and to celebrate – all in the name of providing free tax preparation and financial capability services to low-to-moderate income households.   

The Tax Time Financial Capability Research Symposium provided an opportunity for participants to hear preliminary findings from a tax time savings project sponsored by the Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation and conducted in partnership between Prosperity Now’s Taxpayer Opportunity Network, Washington University’s Social Policy Institute and EARN’s SaverLife program during and after the 2019 filing season. The goal of the project was to gain a better understanding of the most effectivesavings interventions that can improve the financial well-being of LMI filers across three platforms (VITA, EARN’s SaverLife program and Refund to Savings).   

Then, armed with preliminary research, symposium participants engaged in small group discussions to identify the outcomes our field will collectively target for our clients; to determine how we should go about achieving those outcomes; and to identify the potential challenges and barriers to our collective success. It was an afternoon filled with meaningful conversations, and afterwards, participants took a break to celebrate VITA at a reception honoring VITA’s 50th Anniversary and the passage of the VITA Permanence Act.  Reception attendees gathered to hear an address by IRS CARE Director Dietra Grant, who oversees the IRS organization responsible for the VITA program. Adding to Grant’s remarks was  a representative from the reception sponsor Wells Fargo who shared the company’s ongoing commitment to the VITA program by announcing the commencement of the VITA Leadership Institute. 

Day two included an all-day workshop that provided a great opportunity for intensive peer-sharing amongst programs across a variety of topics related to volunteer and program management, tax site operations, fundraising, and advocacy. Participants engaged in small group discussions throughout the day, shared practices, compared notes and came away with new ideas as well as new connections.  

Based on the results of the post-event survey from VITACon, 92% of participants will apply something they learned from VITACon in the next three months. 88% are likely to follow up on a new connection they made.   

The following quote from one of the participants sums it up: 

“Talking about what works at a site and what doesn’t work has been awesome. This is TRUE THINK TANK.” – Rita Wiltz, Children’s Books on Wheels, Montgomery County, TX  

The activities, engagement and success of the two-day event was made possible by the generous support of our sponsors, for which we are grateful:

  • Wells Fargo
  • Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation
  • Piton Foundation
  • Entergy
  • TaxSlayer

We appreciate your continued support of the VITA program and the millions of people it serves. Ready to do even more? Join the Taxpayer Opportunity Network which connects volunteer tax preparers with the resources they need to help low-income workers to get ahead of a system often designed to leave them behind.

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