Kiana Morales got her Financial Counselor certification two weeks ago. She has worked hard and held multiple financial capability workshops with middle school girls in Santa Cruz County.
"Getting certified in financial counseling has broadened my knowledge and will help develop more in depth workshops for the middle school girls," said Kiana. "The middle school students that I have had workshops with really enjoyed them and even said they would attend more if they were available."
Kiana is one of the first Youth Financial Capability Interns at Santa Cruz Community Ventures. An effort to increase financial knowledge, skills, and access for youth in our community. In her role she has developed and launched a middle school peer curriculum in the Pajaro Valley.
Last week, I had to listen to family and friends as they shared their stories of being bullied and intimidated immediately following the election results. I had to listen to the fear that is now part of their bodies. I had to make peace with the almost numb resignation I found in myself. Yes, the election hurt me to my core.
Last week was not an easy week. The political environment we are in is incomprehensible to me. For over 20 years I have worked to make sure that our communities and country moved closer to a place of equity and justice. And yet, last week I had to force myself to remember to stand.
We are stewards of hope. And not hope of access to a broken system or that something will happen in the future. Our hope is a demand, a war cry, that the system must change right now because people are hurting right now.
I know that our work is but a thread in a much larger and complex tapestry of justice. Remember, we don't stand alone. We are loved, valued, and needed. And we will move forward.
We're going to speak up, stand up, be out, be visible, and not allow abuse. After all, we stand on the shoulders of giants and we will rise together. These are the front lines of the fight that we were born to fight. And we will win.
Maria T Cadenas
My name is Jefre Barrera and I am a Financial Capability Intern at Santa Cruz Community Ventures. I'm a student at Cabrillo College and resident of Watsonville.
Youth face so many obstacles on their path to adulthood that one of them should not be the deprivation of knowledge and resources that are afforded to other youth in other communities.
The majority of youth in my community are financially illiterate but I want to provide them with information and resources that will give them opportunities to create a better life for themselves. I want to show them that someone does care about them, their future, and wants them to succeed.
As the Financial Capability Intern I will be developing a new program focused reaching high school youth, primarily at risk youth in the community. I aim to create presentation modules that will provide youth with information and resources to help increase financial capability.
Through mentoring and the creation of a strong and successful network with community partners we hope to reach the youth and create a drastic impact that increases awareness in the community.
Financial capability is the premise that families should be able to thrive by having both the knowledge, skills, and access to be financially stable. That is a cornerstone of what we do here at Santa Cruz Community Ventures (SCCV). We believe that by strengthening the financial capability of youth and working families in our region we create the very foundation of an inclusive economy.
As you can imagine, the journey to financial capability is never a straight line, nor the same for everyone. But there are stages and aspects that could be pointed out as milestones for each age. And @CFED has done a fabulous job of putting a handy Financial Capability Lifecycle together.
Take a look and see where you and your family are at. It may be missing the party hats, but what better month than April to celebrate this idea. After all, this April we cap it knowing that our free tax services returned over $660K to working families, with an average federal refund of over $1,500 - for many the largest check they will see all year!
So here's a cheer to this very special April and to all of us working on increasing our financial capability and that of our families and neighbors!
Here in Santa Cruz County many nonprofits and funders are pooling together to promote and encourage community members to give and run for the #HumanRaceSC. But it is never so simple, really. It is not about a catch phrase or a run in a beautiful coastal town. It is not even about the lovely Olympic theme or even the matching funds provided by local funders. What it is about is at the essence of who we are as a community.
It is an effort to remember that we are in it together and that the legacy we want is one of vibrant communities into which our kids and grandkids can be a part of. It is about building a community where we as neighbors raise the bar on what being a neighbor is all about.
Santa Cruz is the leftist most city of the US that also just happens to currently be burden with extreme inequality. Every indicator from health to income show how we have fallen prey to the very system that has racked the country and the world.
It is not who we are and not we wish to be. At least, I don’t think it is. This is our Santa Cruz, and it is up to us to lift up our sleeves and get to work on pulling apart the system and recreating one that works better for all of us and that reflect the values that make Santa Cruz great. And we must do it together.
Because it is about living wages, family sustaining jobs, equal pay for equal work and, yes, affordable housing.
It is about us, our legacy, our future, together.
It takes one first step. Let’s run!
As a parent, I know firsthand that nagging and constant question of “am I doing enough?” We strive to teach our children everything from reading to saying “please” and “thank you.” And yet, many of us leave out one of the key lessons in life that they will use every day – money.
If we don’t teach them who will? I rather it not be a pay day lender during college or a having to deal with credit card debt that leads them to have their first experience around a financial system. As uncomfortable as we may be around the taboo topic of money, we have to take the plunge and talk about it.
Luckily for us, Moneyasyougrow.org provides a user friendly guide of 20 things kids should know to have financially smart lives. And even better, many financial institutions offer great child savings accounts. In fact, children with a college saving accounts are three times more likely to attend college and youth with savings accounts have an amazing 176% higher chance to better manage times of uncertainty – regardless of the balance on those accounts.
Because a bank account is more than a bank balance, it is a vehicle to practice of great financial habits. And habits, as we know, are better taught early one in our lives.
I’m committed to seeing our youth be banked and financially capable before they graduate high school. Heck, even before they enter middle school. Because that is economic justice and that is how we can start to create an inclusive economy.
Let’s get started.
There is a lot of attention around the “new” version of capitalism. The latest social venture, B Corps, or sharing economies are enough to get a few Ted talks and NPR stories booked. People are enthralled around the possibility of doing good while holding on to capitalism, and in essence an economic model, as the best way to achieve it.
It may seem crazy to suggest it, especially as I’m not an economist and I'm vocal advocate around creating an inclusive economy in our region, but to put the well being of world at the hands of an economic model puts the economy above and beyond all else - it becomes the proxy for wellbeing. Money equals happiness. The push to create “economic growth” becomes key.
The bottom line becomes…the bottom line.
It facilitates the privatization of the common good because it presumes that businesses will share that common good. Even as history has shown that capitalism by itself has no moral guides. It ignores the fact that you cannot holistically measure the well being a population just by the numbers, not even the much talked about Gross National Happiness (GNH) index can claim that.
Capitalism does not address system issues, such racism or gender bias. Even couching it as “sustainability” or “social responsibility” assumes that no real systems will be changed, but rather that the system will be able to continue. No word of equity in there, for people or the earth.
Furthermore, there is little to no accountability of any of the social good ventures, much less acclaimed philanthropy. Both function under the very few hands of those that have complete autonomy to determine what and who is important enough to receive support.
Capitalism is neither good or bad, it is just a model. A model that tilts to the gathering of wealth to some and not others, and that compounds over time, just like interest (wealth gap, anyone?). And by basing our entire focus of wellbeing on it, it leads to all other vehicles of power being dictated by it (e.g. political parties). No amount of good intentions by a few companies and individual CEO’s are ever going to overcome that system and incentives.
And so people matter.
People matter because who we are is not captured in a supply and demand curve. And to create the world we seek, people need to be able to collectively work together to move the direction and creation of a new system. One that balances the role of our economic drivers with the accountability our government can provide. People tooled with education can hold both our businesses and government accountable to those values. We need to go to school, get water, shelter health, free from the charity of what the business sector deems we need.
People matter because it is people that will challenge the system, change the system, and in that create a bottom line that is more about the human experience we all share than about the the model that puts money in the bank.
Santa Cruz Community Ventures is the nonprofit affiliate of the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union