We recently shared some rather shocking Financial Assets and Access numbers for Santa Cruz County. Taken together they point to a stark reality for our county - the cost of living far outpaces our income growth, especially in highly dense areas like Watsonville. It is all a mixture of housing costs and the industries (e.g. services and agriculture) that have traditionally provided employment in our county but nonetheless are not able to keep up with the cost of living.
And with areas of our county with up to 50% of the population being unbanked or underbanked, we have a lot of work to do to create an inclusive economy. This includes creating living wage jobs or affordable housing, including establishing renter protections. But just as important, we have to equip our community to be financially capable to manage their funds, provide access to financial tools in order for them to build their assets, and to encourage and facilitate civic engagement to help draft policies that allow families to keep those financial gains and start new socially conscious enterprises.
And to do this we have to trust the owners of that future economy - our youth. Which is why SCCV is launching the creation of a Youth Peer-to-Peer Financial Capability Network. We believe our youth are the ones that will shape and lead our future. They, better than anyone, have the vision of what we need tomorrow. We just have to help them with the tools and skills to help them get there.
And so we are investing in living wage internships here at SCCV and counting on their leadership to develop a youth led and youth run financial capability effort for the county - with a special focus on Latino youth. Our interns will get certified as Financial Counselors and develop interventions for K-12 students and their parents. We see this as connected with our desire to get a Children's Savings Account for every child we can in our county. After all, a Children's Savings Account, regardless of balance, would triple the chances for our children going to college. But most importantly this is about our commitment to the future we want to build.
Stay tuned, as we'll be introducing you to our interns in the coming days! They are amazing Latino students ready to take on the challenge.