Feb 3, 2016

Financial Coaching Pays Off for WEN Clients

For women and families who have struggled to make ends meet, a secure job is the first step toward financial stability. But, it’s only the first step. As a Financial Opportunity Center (FOC), WEN now provides long-term, one-on-one financial coaching to help take a client out of a downward spiral. During the 2014-2015 fiscal year:

 

 

In the 60-minute Banking Basics workshop, clients find out how to choose a bank (or credit union), learn about banking tools in your management, and how to balance a checkbook.

The Credit workshop teaches ou how to: select a credit card, understand FICO scoring models, read acredit report and make a positive impact on credit.

Thirteen workshops have already been conducted since September 2015. Outcomes from these workshops so far include:

 

Three satisfaction questions were also asked at the conclusion of each workshop. The participants found the instructor's knowledge and presentation style to be fantastic, and thought that the handouts were extremely helpful.

 

In addition to satisfaction questions, workshop specific skill questions were also asked. Participants were asked to rate their confidence in each skill after the workshop, with the following results:

For more information on the upcoming workshops and to register for the free 60-minute sessions, please click here.

Nov 17, 2015

A True Fighter -- Jaclyn's WEN Transformation.

Jaclyn shares her emotional journey.
Jaclyn shares her emotional journey.

Jaclyn is one of those WEN graduates we will never forget -- her journey in getting to WEN, her fearless mindset, and her courage to speak to others about her experience is exceptional. We want to share her journey today. The following is from Jaclyn's essay that she read at graduation.

"On November 15, 2014, the life I had been living as a consummate worker bee came to a halt. The last 16 years of getting up every day, going to the same place, interacting with the same group of people and getting a paycheck all stopped. I was terminated.

I thought I would rest my mind, body and spirit, regroup in a few months and everything would be okay. It was not. I really did not commit to a job search until April. I had every confidence I would find employment, especially with 27 years of experience and knowing all the players in my profession. I believed a door would open for me. It didn't.

The journey to WEN began in April and culminated on a July evening when I made a phone call that would change my life. By the time I made this call, I couldn't leave my bedroom -- I was scared, felt unworthy and had nothing but negative thoughts about myself. When I finally picked up the phone, I was told in a kind and reassuring voice to come in and register. I felt a wave of peace.

I remember the day of orientation so well - sitting with these other women, I wondered what I was doing and wanted to run. But I stayed. The flood gates of emotion opened, a feeling of connection came over me, and my a-ha moment came when each woman introduced herself and talked about her journey to WEN. I realized at that moment that I was not alone, and if I put in the work, I would be supported. The energy of these women in the room made the light shine just a little brighter that day. I felt I was listened to, I was energized to come back to the program, and I actually looked forward to getting up the next day.

I attended many workshops during my time at WEN -- I cannot convey how thankful I am for the wonderful women who gave their time to uplift me and solidify the decision I made to come to WEN. My journey to WEN has given me pride in myself, the confidence to move outside of my comfort zone and the support of women I will stay close with for life. My personal journey has been blessed with an offer of employment. With the tools I was given at WEN, I'm ready to move forward."

Aug 19, 2015

The Evident Need for WEN's Services

Chronic and persistent poverty and unemployment (or under-employment) is a prevalent situation for many of the women WEN serves. Over 80% of WEN clients live in the state of Missouri, where the economic status of women is a real concern. In January 2015, a report released by the Women's Foundation of Greater Kansas City and the University of Missouri Institute of Public Policy found that, out of the 950,000 Missourians living in poverty, 55% are women.  

WEN clients are not only facing un- or under-employment; they experience gender pay gaps (making 71 cents for every dollar earned by a male in Missouri), child care and transportation conflicts, inadequate health care/insurance, and lack of access to or knowledge of available services and support. Approximately 75% of WEN clients have incomes below the federal poverty level and 40% of WEN clients are the sole provider of income for a household that includes dependent children. Fifty two percent of clients served during 2014-2015 reported a household income of under $10,000 -- less than the current federal poverty guidelines set for a 1-person household, which is $11,770.

Approximately 27% of clients report income between $10,000-$19,000, and 11% report a range of $20,000-$29,000. The remaining 10% have incomes upward of $30,000 per year. The following statistics illustrate the dire economic status of the women WEN serves. Between April 2013 and June 2015:

  • Average FICO credit score was 578, with the lowest score being 416;
  • Average monthly net income was -$333.39, with the lowest net income being -$2,745;
  • Average net worth of -$16,795, with the lowest monthly net worth being -$224,929;
  • 22% of clients who completed a credit report discovered they were completely unscored;
  • The average number of outstanding collections was 5.3, with the average amount of debt in those collections being $8,395.

When we consider these income levels along with the amount of debt held by a WEN client, it's clear that our clients are struggling, and many are losing the fight. Increasing debt makes it difficult to emerge from the cycle of poverty, even after finding employment.

WEN takes a proactive approach in shaping our clients’ future careers and financial stability with a highly personalized program that addresses their talents and challenges on an individualized basis. What we do is bigger than helping women find jobs. At WEN, we help each woman build a set of job search skills that enable her to rebuild her future on a strong new foundation.

 
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