Last month, we wrapped up our second session of the intensive financial literacy course for women- “She Means Business.” The 8-week course was made possible by local female professionals who volunteered their time teaching about the financial topic in which they specialize- including Kathleen Barlow, Judy Hanley, Kasey Ring, Kristal Bowman Carter, Kammra Montgomery and Lindsey Powers. Participants learned about important financial concepts like budgeting, saving, credit, planning for retirement, mortgages and home-buying.
Kathleen Barlow, a Financial Advisor with Raymond James, co-developed the program with Habitat staff in response to the disproportionate poverty levels in single women, especially single parents and elderly. Executive Director, Shellie Barrus explains, “When we examined the census results, we realized that a surprising number of women in our community were being thrown into poverty when their lives took an unforeseen turn, whether it was a divorce or the death of a partner. It was such a diversion from the general perception around wealth in our area. Our goal is to teach women to plan and prepare for any situation.”
The results from our first session were tremendous, and we anticipate the same from the most recent session. Four months after completion, 100% of our first session participants reported the following:
- Improved knowledge about budgeting, saving and investing;
- Better understanding of mortgages and the home buying process;
- Improved knowledge about planning for retirement;
- Increased access to tools and resources for improving financial health.
Additionally, three of our first nine participants have since purchased homes- all are single, and two are also parents of small children. Two of the purchases were traditional sales, and one was an affordable Habitat home.
The improved knowledge and skills result in changes beyond the individual students, and can benefit their families for generations. Lindsey Powers, a Branch Manager for America First Credit Union in Park City, says “As a volunteer, I have seen first-hand the impact of Habitat’s education and advocacy work.” It is easy to see how financial stability can result in improved health, education and wealth outcomes. We look forward to continuing to grow this program, and making a deep and lasting impact on the hard-working women in our community.