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Creating a path to financial independence
Peaceful Paths’ Economic Empowerment Program is designed to help survivors overcome economic abuse and become financially self-sufficient. The program began in 2008 as a pilot program in Florida for addressing the unique needs of survivors through a networking of service providers, community partnerships, education, and asset building. Today, the program is well established and provides economic services to hundreds of survivors each year. The program consists of several components that continue to grow and offers a range of opportunities to survivors as they work on becoming financially independent. The program is open to any survivor of domestic violence within our service area- Alachua, Bradford and Union County.
This component is a series of 10 interactive classes called LIFE-Live Independently Financially Empowered- that address the many aspects of finances- from understanding economic abuse, safety planning and budgeting to organizing your finances, credit issues and long term financial planning for retirement. Classes are facilitated by professionals in the community who volunteer to share their expertise and become part of each participant’s personal financial network.
Employment is key to establishing a solid financial plan. We help participants at this stage work with professionals to increase their employability skills- from resume writing and mock interviews to computer classes and dressing well to accessing additional community resources. We continue to grow with the community professionals who bring unique opportunities for learning and growth to our survivors.
Individual Development Account (IDA)
IDA’s are the Asset building segment of the Economic Empowerment Program that helps individuals achieve their career and personal goals by giving them a foundation to build upon as a pathway to future independence and security. The opportunity to open a “matched savings” account with a 2:1 ratio is available to each participant. There are specific IDA requirements and financial goals are discussed individually with an advocate.
More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the U.S. report having experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Furthermore, 94-99% of domestic abuse
survivors have reported experiencing financial exploitation as part of their abuse. This can leave survivors in severe debt or low credit scores as they try to become independent from their abusive relationships. Due to finances being cited as one of the top reasons that survivors stay with or return to their abusive partner, Peaceful Paths has created a microcredit program to help survivors become financially independent.
Microcredit is the distribution of small dollar loans at a zero percent, 0%, interest rate to help clients build positive credit, avoid financial crises, or start an emergency savings fund, as examples, so they can become financially independent outside of their abusive partnerships. Through this program, qualifying clients will have the opportunity to:
1) Participate in a series of ten economic empowerment classes to provide knowledge and resources to recover from economic abuse.
2) Create a loan implementation plan to keep clients on track with utilizing, paying back, and profiting off loans.
3) Ensure that 5% of all loans are saved for emergencies.
Interested participants are encouraged to take part in a micro loan support group to learn from and support other survivors in the process of utilizing micro loans. Once loans are successfully repaid, participants can become mentors within the economic empowerment program to assist others in
planning and executing their loan utilization plan.
Peaceful Paths works Credit Builder’s Alliance for reporting payments to credit bureaus and pulling survivors credit reports and FICO scores for reviewing, repairing and rebuilding credit.
Our mentors are successful, independent, professional women who have come forward to share their strengths, wisdom and leadership with program participants working to rebuild a safe and healthy support network within our community.
Mentors are available to encourage and support program participants as they navigate their new path towards self-sufficiency, finding their voice, and reclaiming their personal power and self-confidence.
The mentors help to facilitate the LIFE classes (financial literacy), offer one on one time for participants, engage in additional workshops, and monthly LIFE Connect meetings.
The Economic Empowerment Program works to connect survivors with resources and education to sustain affordable, safe housing by providing case management, rapid re-housing financial assistance and financial education. The program recognizes and addresses the link between economic stability and safe housing. The program works to build partnership with housing providers throughout our tri-county service area and provide advocacy for survivors who may encounter unique barriers as a domestic violence survivor.