This is a guest blog post by Kayla Villalobos with IABG partner, Center for Changing Lives.
Center for Changing Lives (CCL) believes that all people should have the economic means to achieve their goals and the vision that they have for their lives and for the lives of their families. So when we considered how we might continue to innovate our programming, the logical next step was adopting a Two Generation model, where parents and children both gain greater access to financial resources, education, and opportunities, building a strong foundation for economic security throughout generations.
In 2016, in partnership with Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA), we launched our two-generation financial capability strategy to create opportunities for both parents and children to gain financial knowledge and security. In the two years following the launch, we partnered with Early Childhood Centers in the Logan Square and Humboldt Park communities of Chicago to bring group and one-on-one financial coaching to parents, educators, and children ages 3-5.
Last year, we were provided funding to begin “Money and Us” a 5-week workshop series that teaches parents and preschoolers the basics for building financial capability, with weekly topics including money identification, earning, spending, saving, and borrowing. Twenty-one families participated in the pilot of the toolkit. We met each week to work on activities together and discuss the topics and activities that they had done with their children outside of the meetings. Parents were also encouraged to work one-on-one with a financial coach on their family’s financial goals.
At the end of the five weeks, parents and kids were invited to celebrate their graduation and open a child’s savings account with $20 in seed money provided by our local partner, Liberty Bank. Studies have shown that low- and moderate-income children with college savings between $1-$499 are three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate from college than those without savings.
Families who participated in the program reported that not only did they spend more quality time with their children, they also had the language to discuss financial matters with them. By supporting parents with the language and tools to talk to their children about finances, we are supporting children’s first teachers and helping those children to better understand money, money values, and money choices. In addition, all participants reported that they will continue to add funds to their children’s savings accounts after completing the program.
Motivated by this success, we have continued to deliver “Money & Us,” in addition to financial coaching and family-friendly financial workshops, and we are now looking to grow our two-generation work even more. This year, we will be taking financial coaching to teenagers and their parents to support teens as they seek higher education, employment, and become more financially independent.
CCL believes that every person is creative, resourceful, and whole—a sentiment that extends to families of all kinds. By supporting families at multiple levels, we will continue to change not just circumstances, but lives.