As Americans enter the Thanksgiving season, some District-based organizations are trying to help local citizens weather the economic storm still playing out. Area residents can pay off debts, save money, fund education, buy homes and start new businesses with assistance from the Capital Area Asset Builders (CAAB).

Offered twice a week at CAAB’s home office in Northwest Washington, the classes are divided into five, two-hour modules about money behavior. “We want to build an ongoing relationship with our clients”, said Marcella Harshbarger, president of the CAAB Board. “We want CAAB to be more known in the community.”

Now partnering with the Washington, D.C. Links chapter, new organizations members like WUSA 9 co-anchor Andrea Roane can share the District’s best-kept secret to help residents match their money for home and business ownership, or fund higher education. “It was a perfect linking together of the two organizations (CAAB and Links),” said Roane. “We have similar goals – service to the community.”

Other new Links members like Maureen Lewis, Janice Anderson and Gwen McCall support CAAB because it’s helped 284 residents purchase homes, 312 residents further their education, 78 residents start or expand a business, helped people save over $640,000 and earn more than $1.9 million in matching funds, yielding total asset investments over $2.6 million.

D.C. residents like Shani Lee Huggins and her husband purchased a home with CAAB’s six-month $3,000 matching savings programs, and were educated through CAAB’s Money Management 101 course. “CAAB fosters healthy savings”, said Huggins. “They prepare you to practice saving, having a goal, and keeping it.”

Walk-in residents like Huggins can take advantage of CAAB’s free 10-hour financial education series to learn about budgeting, money management, credit skills, emergency funding, and saving money. Its programs help low and moderate-income individuals and families who are struggling to stay out of debt while making ends meet. “A three- month emergency fund is now a nine-month emergency fund,” said CAAB Executive Director Maurita Coley. “People are now taking jobs that are paying less are getting back on track by learning how to save money.”

CAAB, founded in 1996 during Moriah Fund meetings, is an incorporated 501(c) 3 non-profit organization promoting economic inclusion that aims to narrow the gap of income and wealth in ever-changing economy.

CAAB is located at 1801 K Street, NW, Suite M100, N.W. For more information visit caab.org.