Here are two stories about Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World outcomes: (1) the data provided by CharityTracker and (2) an impact statement by a Getting Ahead graduate.
The CharityTracker report covers resource development, increased stability, and return on investment.
Resource development: In Bridges and Getting Ahead we define poverty as the degree to which we have eleven resources. It follows that by building resources we can get out of poverty. Investigators typically choose one or perhaps two resources to build following graduation from Getting Ahead. The self-assessment covers all eleven. This report of 808 individuals shows the improvement achieved over an average of 170 days, less than half a year.
Increase in stability: To build resources, it helps to stabilize one’s environment. This report of 882 individuals show improve in fifteen stability indicators over an average of 170 days.
ROI indicators: 481 graduates provided financial data over an average period of 170 days. Fifty percent increased monthly income, and 50% decreased monthly debt. Fifty-three percent decreased total debt, 40% increased assets, and 37% decreased the use of state and federal benefits.
The following impact statement was written by Christa C., a Getting Ahead graduate in Omaha, Nebraska.
Let’s be heroes! It’s more fun!
Congratulations fellow investigators! We made it through the course! We have all arrived at this wonderful moment together because, let’s face it, we wanted the money that was promised to us for taking the class! Who knew that after taking the class, I think everyone would agree that we’ve walked away with so much more than the stipend offered to us. We have been forever changed for the better. Thank you, Bridges Out of Poverty staff and everyone who helped put the Getting Ahead class together for us. Because of you, we have a new lease on life, a renewed mindset. I believe that, coupled with a little effort, we will go on to produce many positive outcomes for ourselves. Again, thank you.
I was asked to share what life was like for me before the Getting Ahead class. I’d like to say my life wasn’t so bad. Who really wants to admit that their life is less than fantastic? If I get honest, I had been merely surviving, living day to day, robbing Peter to pay Paul. I had no vision and no drive. I didn’t have a plan written down. There was no budget or one-, two-, or even three-year plan to accomplish my goals. I wanted to do better.
I knew I had to do something different, especially after the death of my mother (and a week later, my great-nephew died). Their deaths were the final straw. They pushed me over the edge into a pit of despair and depression. Thankfully, that’s when I heard about Bridges Out of Poverty. I thought, “Well, I sure fit that definition! I’m impoverished, and I need a bridge!” I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they said they would pay me a stipend to take the class that would help me! It was a deal I couldn’t refuse.
The class, to my surprise, was not a class at all but a meeting of minds. A group of sleuths, investigating (1) the causes of our economic situations and the impact it’s had, (2) how to evaluate our self-perceptions and solve problematic issues as they arrive, and (3) how to improve and build better relationships, connections, and resources from family, friends, and the community.
It was refreshing to have the various community speakers come and speak. They gave me hope that there are resources available where I can get the support needed to help me improve my quality of life.
Another concept that has been driven home throughout the entire class is the importance of planning. That without a plan, I planned to fail. When we began looking at planning skills, I was faced with evaluating my time management. I am learning to value my time more. I agree that time is one of the most valuable commodities. I desire to become more effective in managing and maximizing time to build strong ties and loving people.
The Getting Ahead class has been very insightful. I can see where I’ve become complacent. Not truly living. The Getting Ahead class helped me see that I don’t have to stay imprisoned. I can choose to think differently, choose to be grateful. Choose to look and move forward to what’s ahead for me and not focus on what has happened in the past.
Finally, I’ve learned that it is okay to ask for and receive help. That help might not come neatly packaged the way I want it to be. That I must be open to people of all nations, regardless of their social and economic class. Everyone has value and has something to contribute. I like what poet John Donne said in his devotional: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man [and] woman] / is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” So let’s commit to living, not merely existing. Commit to thriving, not settling for complacency. Every one of us matters. You matter! If not you, then who? We must learn to find joy in the journey and satisfaction in hard work by mindfully engaging in our lives. We must stop looking at what we didn’t get or don’t have; instead, I’ll focus on what I do have and can do! We must dare to dream again! I challenge you to take what we have learned and put it to work. I challenge you to be present and live, not merely survive. I like this quote from actor Bradley Whitford, who said, “Take action! Every puny little thing that you’ve ever accomplished is the result of taking action. You have a choice. You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life.” I say let’s be heroes! It’s more fun! Thank you!