Empowering youth for economic self-sufficiency
Creating empathy with dollars and sense
Elevator Pitch: Share a concise summary. Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.
Secure Future$ is an English and Spanish language financial empowerment program designed to support youth to understand their own financial needs and the needs of others, plan for their future, build confidence and have the tools and resources to help them become successful.
WHAT IF Inspiration: What's one way your project dares to ask, “WHAT IF?”
What if we could break the cycle of poverty by empowering every youth in America – regardless of the circumstances of their birth or the income level of their families – to work together, not in isolation, to establish goals for their futures as they transition into adulthood and have the knowledge, resources, access and confidence to succeed, as well as the empathy to help others to thrive, as well?
Problem: What problem does your solution address?
Renaissance found that over 1/3 of our clients, lower income English and Spanish speaking adults seeking to achieve economic stability by starting and growing their own businesses, had little or no savings, poor or no credit and were using predatory products. Children were learning these behaviors and, without any financial capabilities programs being provided in their public schools, and so the cycle of poverty is being perpetuated.
Solution: What is the proposed solution?
The solution is financial democracy for youth from under-resourced communities and populations. Secure Future$ will provide training, support services, coaching and products that will support youth to establish goals for their futures, understand their own, and others’ financial needs and concerns, and develop sound economic behaviors that they can carry into adulthood. The program includes: facilitated peer discussions in a safe and nurturing environment; training and coaching on money management skills and behaviors; raising awareness of predatory financial products; and providing real solutions to asset-poverty in the form of fair and appropriate financial products and incentivized rewards for building savings to achieve goals.
What awards or honors has the project received?
Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how your solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.
Renaissance partnered with Project WeHOPE, an East Palo Alto homeless shelter, to provide our Secure Future$ program to all clients in the Project WeHOPE transitional program - the most under-served members in the community. This was an innovative and exciting partnership for both organizations. One client praised the program and said "for the first time in my life I am living by a budget and actually saving money. I get paid next week, and I am not tempted to touch my savings account. In the past, I would put money in savings only to withdraw it between paychecks. Secure Future$ has helped me make a budget and stick with it." This type of transformative feedback inspires our clients to succeed and help others to do so, as well.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date and expected impact in the future?
Through Secure Future$, transitional age youth will develop goals for their futures and plans to achieve them, and will increase their understanding of their own financial needs and challenges, as well as the financial needs and challenges of their fellow students. Youth will become empowered by setting goals, expanding their financial acumen and developing sound fiscal behaviors, as they become more aware of the needs of others.
We anticipate that 75% of the students who begin Secure Future$ will complete the program and 60% of those who complete the program will open a checking and/or savings accounts.
At the completion of each cohort, a graduation celebration will be held to recognize the accomplishments of the graduates. It will also give them the opportunity to share their achievements with their friends and family members and introduce others to the program.
Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward?
Secure Future$ can be offered in schools, civic and religious organizations. Students will each participate in 12 hours of hands-on training in a lively, highly-supportive atmosphere. In facilitated discussions, students may share their views on money, their challenges, their outlook for the future, and learn from, and be supported by, each other. They will also create achievable goals, develop sound behaviors, open bank accounts and receive incentives to grow their savings. Renaissance will broaden the curriculum to reach hundreds to thousands of students throughout the region.
Sustainability Plan: What is this solution's plan to ensure financial sustainability?
Sustainability of Secure Future$ will require a combined commitment from Renaissance, our partners, consultants and funding partners. Specifically, we will sustain financial mentorship from Renaissance staff, consultants and volunteers; engage graduates as guest speakers for future classes, events and workshops, inspiring others and building a network of peers; and continually pursue additional funding opportunities.
Funding: How is your project financial supported?
Individuals, Foundations, Businesses, Regional government, Customers.
Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem and how does the proposed solution differ from these approaches?
Unlike financial education programs offered at other organizations, Secure Future$ is geared specifically for youth and offers a prize drawing to incentivize clients’ progress on developing positive financial behaviors. Harnessing group motivation, clients will work together to earn tickets at each class for completion of activities, including for example: clarifying goals, tracking spending, completing homework, creating a budget. These tickets will be entered into a prize drawing for deposits of $50 and $100 (a total of $500 per class) into clients’ savings accounts.
Founding Story: Share a story about the “Aha!” moment that led you to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.
The Secure Future$ program has created many new inspiring stories of hope that demonstrate the potential for Secure Future$ success. In the words of, Victor S., "I have not had a checking account in years. Through Secure Future$ I opened a checking account at San Mateo Credit Union. I also met with Neal (financial coach) who is helping me repair my credit." And, Darlene P. stated, "I now have a secured credit card from CFR. This is the first time in years that I have had anything like this. I also am participating in the 2 for 1 match with the Opportunity Fund. They sent me a card with my name on it. I'm excited to see my savings grow each month. I haven't saved money in years."
Team: What roles does your team consist of (i.e. full-time vs. part-time staff, volunteers, board members, etc) and how do you plan to expand the team as the project grows?
Tim Russell, Program Director, leads the English/Spanish bilingual Mid-Peninsula Team. Nora Razon, Program Coordinator, is primarily responsible for Secure Future$. Originally from Mexico, Nora moved to East Palo Alto at age 12. She previously worked in community development in East Palo Alto with children and families. Joining them are Luis Vizcardo, Program Coordinator, and Crystal Rasmussen, Program Associate.