CCS employee Rhona Walker, second from right, poses with Go Girls! participants at Quamichan Middle School. (submitted)

Partners cheer successful Cowichan Valley financial literacy pilot for girls

Project important for Cowichan Valley — a region facing disproportionate rates of youth vulnerability.

Recently, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cowichan Valley wrapped a successful 11-week pilot project that integrated Junior Achievement British Columbia’s “Dollars with Sense” program within BBBSCV’s “Go Girls!” group mentoring services.

This initiative was supported through a $5,000 contribution from Coast Capital Savings through their Community Investment Grant program (administered by the “Youth Get It” Community Council).

“This pilot was a great starting point and wonderful learning experience,” says Erin Generous, executive director with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cowichan Valley. “We thank Quamichan School for their partnership, along with JABC, our volunteer mentors, and of course, Coast Capital Savings for making this initiative possible.”

This project is important for the Cowichan Valley — a region facing disproportionate rates of youth vulnerability. Duncan has repeatedly been named among the worst cities in the province for low-income families, with almost three in 10 children living in poverty.

Extensive research has shown that agency-led mentoring services like those offered by BBBSCV help vulnerable youth succeed in school, gain financial independence, and ultimately break cycles of poverty and dependence. We also know that women are more likely to be poor — largely because of systemic inequalities including the disproportionate burden of domestic/caregiving responsibilities and a persistent gender wage gap (women working full-time in Canada earn only 74 cents for every dollar earned by men — Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2017).

With support from Coast Capital Savings, BBBSCV’s initiative targeted at-risk girls aged 13-15 at Quamichan Middle School, integrating the JABC’s Dollars with Sense program within BBBSCV’s gender-specific group mentoring program, Go Girls! Go Girls is a multi-week, in-school program that focuses on “healthy bodies, healthy minds”, addressing issues such as body image, healthy eating, media influences, self-esteem, positive relationships, and self-care. The JABC’s Dollars with Sense Program is a financial literacy program (reaching students in grades 7-9) that teaches the fundamentals of money management (including differentiating between wants and needs, budgeting, and understanding credit). Coast Capital Savings is the exclusive sponsor of JABC’s Dollars with Sense Program and, through a Community Investment Grant. Furthermore, two employees of Coast Capital Savings’ Duncan Branch (Laura Funk and Rhona Walker) served as volunteer presenters through JABC, helping the Go Girls! participants learn about money management in a fun, engaging way.

“Coast Capital Savings’ community commitment is centred on youth,” explains Maureen Young, director, Community Leadership, Coast Capital Savings. “The pillars holding up that commitment include financial literacy which we know to be a determinant of future success for young people. Go Girls! is a program that is a brilliant fit for Coast Capital and a wonderful example of organizations coming together to empower young people to achieve what is important in their lives.”

BBBSCV and JABC are currently exploring opportunities to scale this collaboration to new schools/locations in the 2018-19 school year.

“This is a necessary initiative and an important partnership,” says Generous. “We are actively searching for ways to replicate the success of our pilot program in the future. Funding is always the key factor in delivering any of BBBSCV’s mentoring services and this program is no exception. We will be looking for the support necessary to grow this exciting initiative and impact more vulnerable girls in our community through this collaborative and integrated approach.”

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