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Press Release

Stand Together Commits $1.85 Million To Help People Overcome Financial Insecurity

Commitment is the second in a series of announcements to raise awareness and transform lives during National Poverty Awareness Month

January 15, 2019 (Arlington, Va.) – Stand Together  announced today $1.85 million in commitments as the second in a series of community-based investments during National Poverty Awareness Month. These grants will further the work of Rising Tide Capital (NJ) and dfree® (NJ), two partners committed to helping individuals build financially independent lives.

“Financial insecurity and personal debt represent significant barriers to opportunity,” said Evan Feinberg, Executive Director of Stand Together. “Pastor DeForest ‘Buster’ Soaries and his team at dfree® have built a transformative program to help tens of thousands of low-income individuals find financial freedom, and Rising Tide Capital, under the inspirational leadership of Alfa Demmallash and Alex Forrester, has an impressive track record of helping individuals in poverty to launch and maintain their own small businesses.”

There are roughly 40 million people living below the poverty line in the U.S. today, and eight in ten workers depend on every paycheck to make ends meet. When emergencies strike, only 44 percent of American adults have the financial cushion to pay a $400 expense without taking on debt. Stand Together believes in the transformative power of entrepreneurship to create jobs and opportunity to help break the cycle of debt. With partners like Rising Tide Capital and dfree®, Stand Together is working to transform communities across the country through innovative financial literacy and entrepreneurship programming.

About Catalyst Network members:

dfree®, New Jersey ($1.1 million Stand Together investment)

In response to the growing financial crisis, Rev. Dr. Deforest “Buster” Soaries Jr. created a financial empowerment curriculum and training program, dfree®, in 2005. Embodying “no debt, no deficits, no delinquencies,” dfree® has helped thousands break the cycle of debt and financial slavery through education, empowerment and personal responsibility. With a focus on values-based principles and practical approaches, dfree has launched a cultural movement of financial freedom. Stand Together has been working with dfree since 2016, helping them quadruple the reach of their curriculum and helping to launch new pilot programs that serve low income populations.

In 2018, dfree® touched individuals through online channels, events, engagement activities, and trainings through a network of 3,000 partner organizations, which marked an increase of 1,300 organizations from 2017. The Stand Together investment will provide dfree® with an opportunity to continue to invest and hone in on the great amount of relationships that dfree® has built over the past few years since the partnership began.

Rising Tide Capital, New Jersey ($750,000 Stand Together investment)

Rising Tide Capital (RTC) is dedicated to the economic empowerment of low-income families and communities through entrepreneurship that helps transform lives, strengthen families and build sustainable communities. They provide entrepreneurs in underserved urban neighborhoods with business management education, network development and opportunities to secure startup seed funding and accelerate business services. Through their work, RTC prepares men and women to break themselves and their communities free of poverty by creating jobs, increasing family stability and ultimately boosting the local economy. Founders Alfa Demmallash and Alex Forrester opened Rising Tide Capital’s first office in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 2004, and since then 2,500 people have graduated from RTC’s nationally-recognized Community Business Academy. Within two years of graduating, RTC’s entrepreneurs experience a 112 percent increase in average business sales with a corresponding 58 percent increase in household income.

With this investment from Stand Together, RTC will be able to further develop its expansion capability, building upon its proof of concept in Chicago. Additionally, the goal of this investment is to further generate demand and activate new markets to establish long-standing entrepreneurial hubs across the US.

“We are tremendously grateful for the role that Stand Together is playing in helping us achieve our long-term vision to bring entrepreneurial education and support to local changemakers and leaders across the country,” said Alex Forrester, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer/Co-Founder, Rising Tide Capital. “Their investment in us, not just the financial support, but the extensive advice, guidance, and training has been invaluable. We are thrilled to look ahead into 2019 and beyond and see a path forward that will reach tens of thousands of entrepreneurs in the future.”


These organizations are part of Stand Together’s growing Catalyst Network of more than 100 community-based organizations working to break the cycle of poverty in America across six issue areas: Addiction and Mental Health; Financial Empowerment and Entrepreneurship; Housing and Homelessness; In-Prison, Reentry and Second Chances; Workforce Development; and Youth and Education. Throughout National Poverty Awareness Month, Stand Together will be announcing additional investments in some of the most effective members of its Catalyst Network. To see more work by Stand Together’s Catalysts in the Financial Empowerment and Entrepreneurship portfolio, click here.

About Stand Together

Stand Together is a social change organization committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by supporting the creative solutions of individuals and communities around the country. Founded in 2016, Stand Together strengthens communities by investing in social change-makers that can break barriers for individuals in poverty so that they can realize their full potential.

For more information on these Catalysts, Stand Together’s Catalyst Network and how to get involved, visit To join the National Poverty Awareness Month conversation, follow @StandTgthr and #PovertyAwareness.

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