United Way program interrupts cycle of poverty by promoting financial literacy

financial achievement clubs
February 6, 2024

“It saved my life.”

When Brian Richards began taking Financial Achievement Club classes through Community Restoration Project (CRP), his credit score was 512. After just three months of participation, it rose over 100 points.

“It is a wonderful club. It really made me what I am today, [who] is a person who likes to make money and go to work,” says Richardson.

Financial Achievement Clubs are United Way of Greater Atlanta programs that provide adults with monthly financial literacy workshops with the help of three partner organizations: CRP, Frontline Housing, and Single Parent Alliance and Resource Center (SPARC). Topics include budgeting, saving, credit/debit, investing, and home buying with the goal of participants saving $1000 by the end of six months. Participants also have the opportunity to receive an additional $700 as an incentive — $600 is offered as 1:1 match for six months of continuous savings and an additional $100 for raising a credit score by 30 points.

As of November 2023, the United States is undergoing the least affordable housing market in 35 years. This makes obtaining equity for individuals with low credit and limited income nearly impossible. When looking at Greater Atlanta specifically, we see the need for widespread financial literacy and wealth building opportunities. 

According to United Way’s 2023 Child Well-Being Outlook: Insights for Impact Report, 61% of Greater Atlanta’s Black population lives within 79 neighborhoods that have both low and declining child well-being. Within these 79 neighborhoods, nearly 40% of families face a significant housing cost burden and 35% live below 200% of the poverty line. For families living in these circumstances, funding an emergency can mean skipping meals or forgoing utility payments.

“As our team works housing families, we find that emergency savings and financial education promotes stability. Many of our graduates have stated that they were not taught to save. So, whenever they had a financial crisis, because there were no savings, it would cause their life to spiral completely out of control, and they would find themselves homeless once again,” says Phillip Hunter, CEO of Community Restoration Project. “The fact that they have now engaged in developing the discipline of saving and making it a priority, they now not only can weather a financial crisis, but it has enabled them to set other goals, such as homeownership.”

To participate in a Financial Achievement Club, families must make less than $52,000 and not receive savings benefits from their employers. Over the past year, over 60 families saved over $1000 through participation in the club. Currently, over 80 families are enrolled in the program. 

In 2022, we invested over $131,000 into Frontline Housing, over $1 million into Frontline Housing, over $800 into CRP, and over $50 million into programs and initiatives that promote financial stability throughout Greater Atlanta. Investments like these aren’t possible without your support. Help unlock the potential of children, families, and communities today by donating to our Child Well-Being Mission Fund.  

This article was originally published in the Saporta Report.

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