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Bridge To Benefits

Bridge to Benefits in Spanish

Puente a los beneficios de Minnesota

The Bridge to Benefits Minnesota website, including the screening tool is now available in Spanish. Please click here to be directed to the Spanish site. This site is made possible through the support of Greater Twin Cities United Way.

Bridge to Benefits is a multi-state project by Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota to improve the well-being of low-income families and individuals by linking them to public work support programs and tax credits.

The project relies on an online screening tool designed to help families and individuals understand if they are eligible for an array of public work support programs and tax credits and find helpful information to guide them through the application process. Work support programs and tax credits were implemented by federal and state governments to help low-income workers meet basic needs. Yet hundreds of thousands of eligible families across the country are not participating in these programs or claiming the tax credits that could provide increased economic stability for their families. 

In Minnesota, the Bridge to Benefits project includes the following public work support programs and tax credits:

more features

Benefits Calculator Helps Families Understand Value


A new feature that calculates benefit amounts for the public programs and tax credits that are included on the Bridge to Benefits screening tool was recently added to improve the capacity of the Bridge to Benefits website in helping families understand the value of enrolling in public work support programs and claiming tax credits. Now, after completing the screening tool, families receive both a list of public programs/tax credits for which they appear eligible and an estimate of the potential benefit amounts they might receive from each program.  

Adding this new feature serves two purposes; to show families the total value these programs can have on their economic stability and to encourage them to complete the enrollment processes for all the programs for which they appear eligible.  Because the Bridge to Benefits screening tool does not ask for all the information that is needed to determine benefit amounts accurately, the amounts that appear are broad estimates or ranges, based on a maximum benefit amount.  The actual benefit amounts the family receives may be different.

Bridge to Benefits was launched in 2007 in an effort to improve the economic stability of low-income working families by connecting them to an array of public work support programs and tax credits.  The project relies on a website that is a one-stop shop for information on public programs and includes a quick screening tool for families to help them determine their potential eligibility for the programs. The specific programs/tax credits included on the Bridge to Benefits site are the health care programs (MinnesotaCare, Medical Assistance and General Assistance Medical Care), Food Support, School Meal, WIC, Energy Assistance and Child Care Assistance and two tax credits, the Earned Income and Working Family Tax Credits.  For more information, visit the website at www.bridgetobenefits.org or call 651-855-1176.

MinnesotaCare 

Medical Assistance 

General Assistance Medical Care 

Food Support

Child Care Assistance 

School Meal Program 

WIC (Women Infants and Children)

Energy Assistance 

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

Working Family Credit (WFC) 

Public Programs are Underutilized 

There are many reasons why families do not participate in public programs.  They don’t know about the programs, don’t understand the eligibility criteria, or assume they don’t qualify.  The applications and enrollment processes are often complex and time consuming to complete. Literacy issues, language, transportation and stigma all add to the obstacles families face in enrolling.  The result is that all of these programs are underutilized in Minnesota.  Click here to see the underutilization rates of programs.

Bridge to Benefits was created to help overcome many of these barriers.  It provides a one-stop shop for families and organizations to find information on this array of programs.  It includes a screening tool that is anonymous and quick to help determine a family’s potential eligibility for all the programs.  It also provides detailed program information, downloadable applications, program contacts, and information on how to apply.

Bridge to Benefits Goals

The goals of Minnesota’s Bridge to Benefits project are to:

  • Increase awareness and participation in seven public work support programs and two tax credits;
  • Improve economic stability and well-being of low-income families by connecting them to work support programs that help meet basic needs;
  • Promote healthy child development;
  • Help families navigate complicated public program enrollment processes;
  • Assist service providers by forming a “network of support” to ensure families receive the help they need;
  • Strengthen communities by bringing in more federal and state dollars through the increased number of families who are participating in public programs and tax credits.

Impact of Public Programs

To learn more about how public programs can impact the economic stability of low-income families, click here. 

To learn more about how public programs affect communities, click here. 

Partnership Opportunities

Anyone can use the Bridge to Benefits website to screen themselves and find out about public work support programs.  However, Children’s Defense Fund–Minnesota believes the project is most efficient when used in partnership with community-based organizations.  CDF–Minnesota seeks to work with organizations that are willing to use the screening tool on a regular basis to help their clients enroll in public programs.  CDF also looks to partner with organizations that will provide one-on-one application assistance for one or more of the programs included in the screening tool.

When using the website, screening partners are able to connect families with application assistance partners through an e-mail referral process. Not all families require one-on-one assistance with enrollment processes but for those who do the e-mail referral and follow up is extremely valuable.  To find out more about partnership opportunities, click here

Spread the Word

Bridge to Benefits is a completely free program.  Anyone can access the screening tool, download information, and connect with services at partnering organizations at no charge.  Help us spread the word about the project and help families find more economic stability through the use of public programs. 

 

See the 2009 Bridge to Benefits Progress Report.

Download: Haga clic aquí para un folleto en español

Download Brochure: Bridge to Benefits

Download Handout: What is Bridge to Benefits

 

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