For many low-income families, every dollar has to be stretched in order to put food on the table. Buying books for their children just may not be possible for some families. However, as studies show, nourishing children’s minds with literature greatly improves their performance in school. And there is no better place to start than at home.
There are some fundamental success indicators we look for in financial stability work. On the quantitative side, we want to know if our participants are increasing their income, savings and credit scores, and decreasing their debt and use of predatory financial services. Qualitatively, we work with them to improve their sense of capability and confidence when it comes to their relationship with money.
We measure all of these things, and we file our reports, and you can see our collective success on paper. But out in the world, we love when spontaneous things happen that fall outside the usual evaluative box and exceed our expectations.
Parker was a serious basketball fan. At just 8 years old, he saw the Sacramento Kings in the newspaper and started looking up their scores after the games. Soon he had the basketball bug and wanted to learn to play.
Parker joined YMCA Superior California’s after-school program, which is funded by United Way’s health initiative that includes our Fit Kids project. He learned a hard lesson: It’s hard to get the ball in the basket. Fortunately, a staff member encouraged him to keep practicing.
Marina learned the hard way that the old saying is true: Sometimes you can’t go home. Marina’s childhood was marked by addiction – her parents’ addiction and her own. Fortunately, her probation officer saw her perseverance and determination and sent her to Koinonia Homes for Teens.
As a foster youth at Koinonia, Marina turned her life around, due in part to Koinonia’s participation in United Way’s financial stability initiative, which includes our $en$e-Ability project that helps foster youth become financially literate and build savings accounts for when they move out on their own.