In late 2019, Emily, a single mom of two, was working part-time as a bank teller making $12 an hour. Every week was a struggle to make ends meet and she felt like she was always making difficult tradeoffs just to get by. Between her income and government assistance, she was making it, but just barely – sometimes taking on debt to pay bills – and with no savings she constantly worried about unexpected expenses like car maintenance and medical bills.
Then one of Emily’s case managers mentioned Aspire, a Mobility Mentoring©-informed partnership of United Way of South Hampton Roads, Catholic Charities and ForKids funded by Women United. Aspire uses an intensive coaching model to help at-risk women chart their own path toward self-sufficiency. Emily read about the program and decided she owed it to herself and her children to apply. When she met her personal coach Meredith for the first time she was discouraged, overwhelmed and scared, so they began by simply discussing dreams – Emily’s dreams for herself, her children, her future. Meredith helped her break her big dreams into small steps, and with each one she took, Emily’s confidence grew.
Amid a global pandemic, Emily went from a part-time to full-time employee with benefits, paid off over $2,000 in debt and increased her credit score from 515 to 633. She went from receiving government benefits to being completely self-sustained and grew her assets from $7,000 to $9,900. Emily is now continuing her education at Tidewater Community College, entirely on grants and scholarships, and receiving all A’s in her classes. She even opened a retirement account, started saving for emergencies and connected with the CEO of a local bank for professional mentoring. In one year, Emily changed the course of her life and is well on the way to her dream of owning a home.
Launched in January 2019, Aspire is helping women reach their full potential by providing comprehensive, coordinated support and resources – and the data shows that the approach is working. To date, participants have a 96% goal achievement rate, have seen an average increase in credit score of 36 points and 40% have increased their income. Through Aspire, women like Emily are finding encouragement, empowerment and hope as they invest in their family’s future.