By: Maria Cadenas, Executive Director of Santa Cruz Community Ventures
It’s about people. At Santa Cruz Community Ventures (SCCV) we want more local businesses, families able to afford to live here, and an equitable financial system. We want all of these because they are signs of a thriving community – where all people can live.
But we don’t have that quite yet. The wealth gaps are daunting and making it unaffordable for most families to live here. Parts of our county are facing up to 50% of households not using banking services. And the fast pace of change due to regional pressures like water and Silicon Valley are shocking. Not to mention the displacement and gentrification of our low-income communities.
Which is why our work, our willingness to innovate and try, is so critical. We know that as a world we don’t yet have the answers. But we have the urgency, the imagination, and the courage to try. We are unwilling to sit by the sidelines.
Over the past two years SCCV has reinvented itself to focus on building an inclusive economy. Our work has taken a thoughtful approach to innovation, community organizing, and economic development. From developing a toolkit to help immigrant families in danger of deportation protect their wealth to Youth Financial Capability models targeting middles school girls and youth entering the workforce.
We are doing this because our dreams of a thriving local inclusive economy are worth it. We are doing it because each one of us is worth it. And yes, it may seem a bit unorthodox to work with health providers to get them to use financial coaching as a health treatment or to view college saving accounts at time of birth as an economic strategy or to offer our fiscal sponsorship for a rapid response to facilitate supporting DACA recipients. But we are in an unorthodox time when eight men have as much wealth as 50% of the world’s population.
We may be dreamers, but we are also thoughtful and intentional doers. I hope you will join us in building the Santa Cruz County of tomorrow. Dare to dream with us and help bring our vision of sustainable and inclusive economy for all to life.