2022 Grants Challenge

Financial Literacy Training For Underserved Women

Financial Literacy Training Money 101 addresses the critical element of financial independence within disenfranchised communities and was created to support young women who desire to be empowered and financially independent. The program is designed to teach women about money habits, increasing income and maximizing savings. Participants are women, primarily those who have been in foster care, have faced homelessness, incarceration, domestic and /or sexual abuse or other adversities.

What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Research and available data show that young adults who leave foster care face enormous challenges in everyday life and have a much higher likelihood (over 50%) of becoming imprisoned or homeless. Moreover, women face additional challenges, such as gender bias, in becoming financially independent. Historically, there has been a significant gap in female leadership role models, whether it is in business or politics. Studies and evidence however show us that female presence in leading positions is crucial to the success of the institutions they lead. The pay gap is another major problem for women, who earn on average 80% of what men earn for the same work and women of color earning as little as 60% of that. Studies show that women disproportionately need to overcome financial trauma which they experience at rates much higher than men. Women who grow up in foster care and underserved communities are particularly vulnerable and need support.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

The Money 101 training was created because there are too many young women who don't know how to manage their finances to help them reach their goals. This is particularly true for young women who have faced additional life challenges. The training we created is a 3-week online course offered to women who come from foster care, incarceration and have experienced gender- based violence. The vast majority of the participants earn less than $25 000 a year and often don't have a checking account. Participants learn about money habits, how to increase income, maximize savings and when and how to use credit. The aim of this training is to make them aware of how to make smarter financial decisions for themselves and their families, avoid debt, manage their spending and build a long-term financial stability, which they often did not experience while growing up. Upon successful completion of the training, participants are offered a year-long mentorship program, when a mentor is matched with a mentee in order to offer them support and advice in how to manage their money, no matter their budget. The training helps participants establish new money habits, align them with their goals and create money mindset consistent with their life objectives. The entire program, as well as mentoring, is offered free of charge and participants who complete it are offered a $50 gift card as an incentive.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

According to Children's Law Center in California, Los Angeles County alone has over 33 000 youth in foster care who have experienced abuse and neglect, which constitutes over a half of the number of all children in foster care in the state of California. The need for guidance and mentorship for young people leaving foster care is great. The vision of 50/50 Leadership is to reach foster care youth who are starting their own independent lives and help them make smart financial decisions that will shape their future in a positive way. It will start with simple, yet life-changing steps, such as opening a bank account, helping them manage credit and understand how debt works or even explain how to finance their first car. This can have life altering effect on people who have not had proper guidance at home on how to enter financial independence and will help them avoid bad debt and other potentially damaging situations related to finances.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Due to the income profile of our class participants (most earn less than $25,000 per year), we do not track how many of them improved their credit scores, opened bank accounts, or increased their savings. We do not collect this information in order not to put pressure on them. We measure the success of our project by the number of participants joining our sessions and we have seen this number double from 2020 to 2021. Year-to-date for 2022, 50/50 Leadership’s efficiency ratio has exceeded 80%. We can also look at the number of Money 101 participants who join the mentoring program once the financial literacy training is completed. In 2021, we saw 9 participants complete the year-long coaching program and we aim to see this number double this year at a minimum. We believe that this is a testament to our commitment to our mission.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 200

Indirect Impact: 450