As an organization, Branches provides life-changing opportunities to working families and their children to break the cycle of generational poverty. Branches’ 2 Generation Approach incorporates the entire family when providing financial services, turning our families’ needs into opportunities to grow and learn. Our workshops provide financial skills and education to children, youth and adults in a comprehensive, integrated approach, simultaneously equipping kids and parents with the knowledge and tools needed to put the whole family on a path to achieving prosperity.
The 2Gen approach seeks to create an intergenerational cycle of opportunity for children, parents, and families with low-incomes, generating a measurable increase in their economic security, by improving their educational success, economic supports, health and well-being, and social capital.
In 2017 we facilitated over 50 financial education classes to 72 middle and high school students, providing 12 hours of financial education. Through pre and post-test assessments, the students reported that they became more confident in their understanding of financial concepts. Students learned about personal finance including; college financial aid process, the difference between good and bad debt, budgeting, saving, credit and protection from identity theft.
We also have lessons for each age group, ranging from kindergarten to middle school. These classes build off each other and introduce the students to age appropriate concepts about making choices between wants and needs, budgeting, saving and basic banking. These classes reach all elementary and middle school students at Branches’ 3 sites and provide them with 4 hours of financial education. By the end of 2018, we will have reached 410 students in total. In our pilot program at Florida City, we have also conducted field trips: the elementary students have toured TD Bank and the middle school students have toured the Federal Reserve Bank in Doral in order to further familiarize our children and youth with the banking system.
In addition to the lessons for elementary and middle school students, we are also conducting more discussion based classes with high schoolers twice a month for an hour at our Florida City location. These classes are student driven and relate to financial questions they have about planning for their future and understanding the current economy. On average, we have 32 students attend these classes every month.
By teaching the children, we plan to further engage the parents in financial education and ultimately financial coaching. Since October 2017, we have conducted benefits assessments for 55 unique parents and are anticipating beginning financial coaching for 55 individual parents. We believe that by providing financial services to the entire family, that this best positions the family to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.
Lastly, Branches has pro-actively chosen to invest resources in the 2Gen approach of The Aspen Institute’s Ascend Network, a national network advancing the 2GEN approaches to promote family wholeness. In 2018, Branches became a formal member of the Ascend Network. The 2Gen approach fits with the holistic strategy we have been using at Branches where we proactively engage the parents and family members of our students in all services provided to their children.