As United Way continues to work towards advancing the common good by creating opportunities for a better life through our focus on income (one of our three identified building blocks for a good life), help for individuals and families in our region to increase financial stability takes on new life with the expansion of Smart About Money (SAM) budget coaching program to SAM 3.0!
United Way, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Women’s Business and Development Council, Christian Community Action, Community Action Agency of New Haven and New Haven Home Recovery have strategically teamed up to offer SAM 3.0, a budget coaching program where community-based organizations work collaboratively to enhance and expand the set of services leading toward independence and greater financial success for low-to-moderate income individuals and families in our region.
SAM 3.0,a four-month program uses trained volunteers serving as budget coaches to assist households in realizing personal financial goals. During the four-month program participants engage in one-on-one budget coaching sessions with a trained volunteer budget coach while receiving a menu of support services (transitional housing, case management, energy assistance and more) from area nonprofit organizations in an effort to collectively implement impact strategies towards increasing financial stability through measureable changes in financial position. Results from SAM’s previous cohorts show a positive change in participants' financial position:
- 69% of participating households increase utilization of mainstream financial services
- 63% of participating households increase savings
- 68% of participating households reduce debt
A critical component of SAM 3.0 is hinged on an enthusiastic group of twenty-six community volunteers with amazing diversity representing Wells Fargo Private Bank, Peoples United Bank, South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority, Yale New Haven Hospital, Yale University, Charter Oak State College, Casey Family Service and Higher One, who will serve as budget coaches were trained at Yale University School of Management to help households realize personal financial goals.
Check out pictures from the informative and engaging SAM 3.0 Volunteer Budget Coaching training sessions which included:
- Exercises to help develop a sound distinction between financial “coaching” verses financial “counseling/advising”
- Exercises to stimulate positive thinking about money
- Budgeting: the foundation for building stable personal finances
- Goal setting based on personal financial priorities
- Learning on an important number in your life: your credit score
- Knowledge building on common community resources useful in attaining personal financial stability
At a time when demand for relevant community based services far exceeds services available to those in need, SAM 3.0 is an example of nonprofits and funders working in tandem to implement a collective impact approach to provide better and more effective services to an increased number of individuals and families in our region. I feel like the SAM 3.0 expansion offers promising possibilities and I hope it will have great influence on our region’s provision of community based services and financial education sector.