Because financial literacy is a critically important component to helping the families we serve attain independence, Family Promise partnered with Woodforest National Bank in October 2014 to develop New Beginnings, a comprehensive curriculum designed specifically for low-income families. Now, approaching the initiative’s one-year anniversary, we’re proud to report that the response from our Affiliates is exceeding our expectations.
More than 80% of Affiliates have implemented, or will soon implement the program. Of those already using New Beginnings, nearly 7 in 10 have made it a mandatory component of their case management. Based on our annual census, 3,095 homeless families and 1,044 former guests have used the curriculum to date.
New Beginnings’ high adoption rate can be traced to several factors: unlike most programs, it works at the most basic levels of familiarity with financial concepts; it’s modular, making it easy to pair skills, backgrounds, and time constraints of learners with teachers; it provides variable delivery modes so it can be used one-on-one, in classrooms, or as an adjunct to other case management tools; and its comprehensive facilitator’s manual allows for trainers of all backgrounds to engage learners.
“Guests who have been using it love it,” said Martika Baker, Case Manager at Family Promise of Santa Rosa (FL). “It helps guests pay attention to their budget and account for every penny they spend. I like that it’s written in very simple spoken English. It is geared towards a wide array of guests, which is great, because some of my guests have not graduated from high school while others have college degrees.”
The initiative has also fostered relationships between Affiliates and Woodforest nationwide. The vast majority of Affiliates with Woodforest community presence have engaged with their local branches through New Beginnings as well as with general volunteerism, board and committee participation—at least 24 Woodforest employees are serving in leadership roles at Family Promise Affiliates. This injects both high-level expertise and personal commitment into each Affiliate’s efforts and helps accomplish two goals: increasing Woodforest’s presence in the community and effectively helping families regain sustainable independence.
New Affiliates receive the curriculum as part of their initial programming, ensuring that the number of families touched will continue to grow. But that growth can’t be mandated—Affiliates continue to adopt New Beginnings because it works. As Charla Reece at Family Promise of North/Central Palm Beach County (FL) attested, ““I’m a tough critic but I believe that the curriculum is excellent. New Beginnings is phenomenal in covering all the bases.”