The Empower U program, now in its third year, has assisted nearly 600 women with improving their money management skills, changing their savings habits, and building up their confidence dealing with main stream banking.
The program, designed to provide financial literacy for women, arose as a response to the depth of poverty amongst certain vulnerable female populations. Research conducted by the Edmonton Social Planning Council showed that women, especially single mothers, experience higher low-income and poverty rates (Kollman, 2008).
It’s a collaborative effort where multiple stakeholders, including the corporate sector, government, and non-profit agencies, have partnered to support a five-year initiative aimed at helping 1,000 low-income women build financial literacy to maintain independence and financial stability for themselves and their children, as well as, provide participants with a 2:1 matched savings component.
Financial literacy provides an understanding of the consequences of financial decisions, having the knowledge and skills to navigate financial challenges and the confidence to make effective decisions that impact their lives. It provides the education needed to plan for monthly household expenses, understand need versus want, complete taxes to access government benefits, open a bank account, fix bad credit and save money for emergencies.
Accessing mainstream banking services is barrier for those without government ID, a fixed address, a bad credit history or low credit scores. Furthermore, some people living below the poverty line may not feel comfortable going to a bank or may have limited access to banks in their neighbourhood.
Thank you to ATB Financial for partnering and providing banking services throughout the Empower U Ambassador Program across all their branches. This very unique program helps participants feel more comfortable with accessing and using mainstream financial services.
This month, United Way is happy to have the support of June Dresses, an initiative that focuses on empowering women through dress, to bring awareness and raise funds for The Empower U program. For more information on Empower U or United Way’s collaboration with June Dresses, please Contact Karina at 780-990-1000.