What is Thrive San Diego?

Thrive San Diego is a public/private partnership that looks to link existing social services to underutilized public resources. United Way of San Diego, The County of San Diego and the IRS are proud to be partnering with San Diego State University, Cal State San Marcos University, and Southwest College to increase our capacity to serve and reach out to clients. Specifically, the San Diego Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Coalition is partnering with Thrive San Diego to link its free tax preparation sites with CalFresh/Food Stamp screening, and to bring VITA to the disability community.

Thrive San Diego Goals

• Improve relationships with academic institutions to increase community reach
• Provide students with an opportunity to see how social services are inter-connected and vital to individual self-sufficiency
• Link EITC clients with other public benefits
• Improve individual and family self-sufficiency by accessing all eligible benefits
• Link EITC to agencies serving the disability community


The Earned-Income Tax Credit (EITC) program has been heralded as one of the most effective strategies to lift families out of poverty. In San Diego County, a collaborative public-partnership between the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), United Way, San Diego Foundation, Internal Revenue Services, and community-based organizations has helped thousands of low-income working families claim more than $57 million dollars through federal and state tax refunds since 2003. During the most recent tax season, more than 22,000 income tax returns were prepared by the 600+ volunteers who work at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout the county.

Many of the individuals who qualify for EITC will also be eligible to receive CalFresh benefits. The Thrive Initiative seeks to connect these two resources to one another to make it easier for San Diego County residents to receive their full benefits. Currently, the limiting factor in this partnership is the amount of volunteers available to assist with tax preparation and benefit eligibility screening. The Thrive Initiative has identified local educational institutions to provide students as interns for this program.

This public-partnership will focus on three high-priority areas: enhancing the capacity community-based organizations by supporting the recruitment and participation of university students to serve and manage at local community-based VITA sites; train and link senior and graduate students with social science or public health majors to volunteer at nonprofit locations to provide CalFresh screening, referral, and nutrition education to low income populations; and to expand VITA services to the disability community. These opportunities provide students with an opportunity to make a difference in working people’s lives, earn credit for community service, and then get paid work experience.

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