I was having coffee with a colleague, Heather Morrison, and she asked me, “Have you ever heard of a matched savings program?” No, I had not. She went on to share the unbelievable financial literacy program that the City of Edmonton and Wings of Providence put on where women, leaving situations of domestic violence could get a new lease on life by attending a weekly group, learning about their relationship with money, getting established with their own bank accounts and credit ratings, saving for their futures.Then she shared that at the end of the group, the participant’s savings were matched two to one (2:1), I was immediately hooked.
Can you imagine, living pay-cheque to pay- cheque, barely getting by, managing to sock away a little of that very valuable money into a savings account, and daring to dream of achieving a goal that once seemed unattainable? Heather shared that women might save for a down payment on a house, or their education, a training program, or even a household appliance that will make a real difference in their lives.
Later I met some of the women from these financial literacy groups. They told me stories about how they got bank accounts, started saving, and started looking forward to their future. It is pretty powerful how building on women’s strengths, providing some support and having an incentive of matching their savings can help someone to help themselves. They are inspired by their ability to learn, to gain skills with their money, to gain confidence in working towards their goals.
Today I saw hundreds of people launch the Empower U – Building Confident Futures program. With the support of 12 partnering organizations, six funders, and two corporate sponsors, EPCOR and ATB Financial, I had hope for a brighter future for women and families in our community. It warms my heart that people and organizations have come together to give women tools to further their success and participation in our community.
I can’t wait to share the success stories of some of the 200 women this year that are taking on the Empower U programs. They truly inspire me.
To learn more about Empower U, or to enroll, please contact:
Heather Morrison or Joanne Currie
City of Edmonton United Way of the Alberta Capital Region
Video courtesy of CFRN News