StreetCred co-founder Lucy Marcil ’06 is a pediatrician who saw the needs of patients and worked with a fellow clinician to meet them where they already were—in the waiting room. The founders recognized many of their patient families were eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), but they weren’t receiving it because they were not filing taxes, were unaware of their eligibility or were losing money to for-profit tax preparers.
StreetCred helps individuals file their taxes alongside trained tax prep volunteers while they are waiting for their doctor’s appointment. It’s free, one-stop shopping for resources needed to pull families from poverty. By the time they leave the doctor’s office, they’ve filed taxes and refund money is on the way.
“We realized the doctor’s office was a place families come frequently,” said Marcil. “They know how to get there, and it is a trusted place. If we wanted to reach a large number of families, this was the way to do it.”One client, an immigrant with three young children, was working part-time and earning an annual income of $10,000. She completed her taxes through StreetCred and got back $3,000.
“Even more empowering than the money was the way she was able to learn about her tax rate and how the EITC is structured,” said Marcil. “Also empowering was the way this service set her up better for the long term. Many StreetCred clients have never been told they are capable of making change in their lives.”
Research shows links between families receiving the EITC and improved infant health, better school performance, greater college enrollment and increased earnings for the next generation.
Making change is something Marcil has been passionate about since her time at Davidson, and she points to the sense of community and social progress she found on campus—something she says other schools only “give lip service to.”
Marcil was able to pursue her passions, thanks to scholarships that allowed her to graduate free of loans.
“Without all of the financial support I received, I would not necessarily be able to do this work,” she said. “At some point, I would’ve had to focus on making more money. If we really care about having a healthy country, we have to let people choose work that is going to enrich the country rather than choose careers based on finances. That is something Davidson does uniquely well.”
Following Davidson, Marcil joined the Peace Corps and traveled to Namibia, where she was placed with a local non-governmental organization, working on HIV care and prevention. She helped create a comprehensive orphan care program.
“I learned how complicated solutions to problems really can be,” she said. “Doing impactful work takes time and dedication. There aren’t any shortcuts. You have to be willing to invest in a community, and people know when you’re not invested.”
Invested she is. In the past three years, StreetCred has expanded to nine sites in four states and returned $3.2 million to 1700 families. Looking ahead, more services may be on the way. The team has collected data that points to other missed opportunities for their patients, including services related to finance, job training and childcare.
“I use my interdisciplinary Davidson background every day,” she said. “As a doctor and with StreetCred, I am encouraged to be curious and creative in my pursuits. I have to be willing to do things differently.
“Most importantly, I have to listen. People know so much more about what they actually need than I will ever know—because I’m not living their lives.”
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Recommend a Game Changer
Do you know a member of the Davidson community — alumnus or alumna, faculty or staff member, current student — who has championed positive change — in family, community or world? If so, we invite you to nominate a game changer. Davidson will follow up to tell the story.