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Phone: (607) 273-4611
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IDA - Individual Development Accounts

Individual Development Accounts  

What are IDAs?
Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) are special savings accounts designed to assist low income people on their path toward asset ownership through matched savings and financial education. IDAs reward the monthly savings of people who are trying to buy their first home, pay for college or start/expand a small business.

IDAs help people invest in their future. According to one participant, "I started the IDA because of the match, it’s hard to believe that anyone who had the opportunity would turn it down. Now my life is richer because of the IDA, I feel better about myself and I know what I can afford."

Get money for saving money
Saving money for future needs can be difficult for people struggling to keep up with current bills. There are many helpful programs that put food on the table or cover immediate needs, but they don’t move people out of poverty. IDAs can help people save money for assets; asset accumulation can help people move out of poverty.

Our IDA programs are an important part of the Credit Path® model used by Alternatives to help members progress towards financial self-sufficiency. Savings enable people to achieve stability, plan for the future, and have reserves to get through disasters. Individual Development Accounts provide financial education and an incentive to save for assets like a home, an education or a small business.

Alternatives began offering IDAs in 1998. We have partnered with local organizations (Challenge Industries, Tompkins Community Action and Department of Social Services) to provide IDA programs, each with different goals, savings matches and eligibility requirements.

Learning money management
Money Wise® is a financial education course that all IDA participants complete. It provides individuals and their families with the practical tools and information to make economic decisions and improve their financial situation. During this seven-week course, participants track their expenses, assess spending habits, set financial goals and review credit reports. Guest speakers lead discussions on predatory lending, socially responsible investing, credit issues and practical economics. (For more information, request the Money Wise® brochure.)

IDAs at Alternatives: 

Assets IDA Accounts
This program is open to people in Tompkins and the adjacent counties. Assets IDAs combine financial education and a match on savings towards an asset goal of home ownership, business ownership or higher education. Participants can save up to $1,000 (saving a maximum of $125 per month). Savings are matched 2:1, so up to $1,000 of savings are matched with $2,000 for a total of $3,000.   

Eligibility Requirements: You can apply for the Assets IDA program if your total household income does not exceed the income limits listed below. Your assets cannot exceed $10,000 excluding the value of one home and one car per household. Income limits are based on gross income. 

Income chart
(Based on gross income within Tompkins County. Income limits vary by county)

  • For a Household of 1 - Allowable Income $24,120
  • For a Household of 2 - Allowable Income $32.480
  • For a Household of 3 - Allowable Income $40,840
  • For a Household of 4 - Allowable Income $49,200
  • For a Household of 5 - Allowable Income $57,560
  • For a Household of 6 - Allowable Income $65,920
  • For a Household of 7 - Allowable Income $74,280
  • For a Household of 8 - Allowable Income $82,640
    (for each additional member add $9,620)

The First Home Club IDA 
This program is open to people in Tompkins and the adjacent counties. Under the terms of this program, participants will have between 10 to 21 months to save $1,875 (maximum of $188 per month) which will be matched at a 4:1 ratio, so up to $1,875 of savings are matched with $7,500 for a total of $9,375 for a down-payment and closings costs in the purchase of a home. Eligibility is also contingent upon pre-qualification for a mortgage. 

Income chart (for Tompkins County; other counties may vary)

  • For a household of 1 and 2 - Allowable income $58,720
  • For households of 3 or more - Allowable income $67,528

To obtain an application packet for an IDA, fill out below and click on submit. You should receive your packet within five days.

I want information for:
Assets IDA First Home Club IDA
Please send me an application packet:

The IDA program is supported in part by a federal Assets for Independence grant by the Office of Community Services in the Administration for Children and Families of the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Park Foundation.

Alternatives’ Community Programs are supported in part by Alternatives Impact, the 501(c)3 affiliate of Alternatives, which raises funds from government, foundation, corporate, and individual donors. To make a gift or for additional information, contact Liz Hudson, Development Director.

How to contact the IDA Program
For more information, contact
Brendan Wilbur at (607) 216-3445 or Kim Ritter at (607) 216-3404

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Express Employment Professionals, Kathy Nivison

With a background of 15 years in Human Resources, Kathy Nivison started up the Ithaca office of Express Employment Professionals to better serve local employment and recruiting needs. Kathy approached Alternatives for a business loan, and was impressed with both the loan's low interest rate, as well as the quick response from Bob Anderson, the business loan officer at Alternatives.

Kathy took advantage of our "Women and Minority" subsidized loan, which helps women and minority borrowers who have a minimum of one year in business and are looking for assistance with continued growth and expansion.

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