By Chayla Fisher
Building financial literacy is essential to closing the wealth gap, but it is not a solution on its own. Financial literacy needs to be met with systemic changes that create new financial systems that don’t discriminate based on the color of ones’ skin. This means that, in addition to teaching how to budget and build credit, we need to activate and strengthen the economic and political power of families. Our communities have power, they have a voice. Financial CAPABILITY allows them to utilize that power to start to build the economy they wish to see.
In 2016, 27% of Santa Cruz residents (66% white identified) and 50% of Watsonville (81% Latine identified) residents were unbanked or underbanked. Rent in Santa Cruz County is 55% higher than the national average, preventing savings and wealth accumulation. To add to that, Latinas only make $0.42 to the dollar of white males. All these factors cause rural communities in the Monterey Region to have some of the highest unbanked households, highest income gaps, and highest predatory lenders.
That is where Ventures fits in -- Ventures partners with rural Latino working-class families in California’s Central Coast to ensure a shared and equitable economic future for all. Our transformational programs make certain that individuals understand and use their economic and political power. From building their savings to advocating for a living wage, our approach builds community and connects financial stability, wealth building, and self-determination. Our work creates dignity by recognizing, acknowledging, and valuing our community members’ leadership in making change happen. Together, we are working towards a shared and prosperous economic future where zip code, race, gender, or immigration status do not dictate income or wealth.
The Financial Literacy Gap can be closed with community movements that change our economic models. Creating systems where everyone belongs and benefits will allow us to move towards a prosperous and shared economic future for all.
To learn more about the work Ventures does within our community, visit sccvonline.org.