The Founding of Budget Buddies
Rolling Up Our Sleeves
Founding Mothers Anita Saville and Kathy Brough first discussed a financial education program for low-income women in 2009. As the Great Recession gathered steam, it became clear that few people had the skills to manage their money effectively. Kathy and Anita had worked together on multiple political campaigns and shared a passion for empowering low-income women.
During a year of research and interviews with multiple agencies in Lowell, the Founding Mothers realized that case managers don’t have time to help their clients learn key financial skills. They also learned that a sustained program of workshops was needed and that these should be supplemented with individualized mentoring. What if we trained volunteers for this, one case manager said. And the idea for Budget Buddies was born.
With curriculum help from the Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, a pilot program was launched in September 2010 with the Lowell Transitional Living Center (an adult homeless shelter) and the Chelmsford Housing Authority. Beaming faces at graduation and strong results from student surveys made it clear that the women who finished our program were significantly more confident and skilled in money management than when they started. In May of 2011, we received an award from the Jericho Road Project for our evaluation of the pilot.
Broadening Our Reach
In April of that year we started the first of our programs at House of Hope, a family shelter in Lowell, and have been adding new agency partners, in Lowell, Lawrence, and beyond, every year since.
Through the amazing dedication of our coaches, presenters, program leaders, and the many other volunteers who support us, we’ve built a strong and effective organization that has helped many women find the path to economic self-sufficiency.