Since the fall of 2009, HLS students on the Economic Development Initiative (formerly the “Financial Services”) have been involved in supporting various for-profit and nonprofit entities in Mississippi focused on improving access to affordable, responsible financial services.
Students worked with the Institute for Community Based Research (ICBR) at Delta State University to develop a guide to community financial services for students at Delta State and for staff members of local nonprofits. In addition, students worked with Southern Bancorp, the largest rural development bank in the country to support various community development activities, including free tax assistance and promoting historic preservation. In spring 2011, the financial services team worked with the Mississippi Center for Justice to develop consumer education materials on payday lending and the Dodd-Frank Act. The team spent most of the 2011-2012 school year working with the Delta Regional Authority, the Small Business Administration, and ACCION USA as they started a new microfinance initiative in the Delta region. The work consisted of legal and regulatory research, policy research, and interviewing key stakeholders at banks and other organizations throughout the Delta.
In 2016-2017, the team worked on paid family leave legislation. The team worked on a strategic plan for the status of paid family leave throughout the United States and developed model legislation to support Mississippi families and businesses.