Mamas Con Más addresses the significant wealth and financial capability gaps among Latina women. Recent studies have showed that Latina women in California earn only 43 cents to the dollar of while non-hispanic man. In 2016, white families had a median net worth of $171,000, compared with $20,700 for Latino households. In Watsonville, 65% of households have insufficient liquid assets to subsist at the poverty level for three months in the absence of income. And 50% of the households are unbanked or underbanked. The high rates of households not using banking services increasing the problem of alternative lending services. These lending practices include exorbitant fees and interest rates, misleading terms, and lack of consideration of a borrower’s ability to repay. The wealth and income gaps, in addition to the high rate of unbaked services put women with children at a great disadvantage.
In Watsonville, an additional barrier for women is the dependence on low wage agricultural seasonal and service jobs. With limited civic engagement for Latinas elected officials have not addressed their economic and community development strategies an inclusive way to take Latina voices into consideration. Mamas Con Más aims to address this population through culturally appropriate education, outreach, credit building, and advocacy efforts.
Santa Cruz Community Ventures (SCCV) is dedicated to promoting social and economic justice through financial capability, asset building, and advocacy. A key strategic focus is Latina women with children in Watsonville. Our goal is to help develop an inclusive economy that works for all. Families deserve equitable opportunities to thrive in their local economies. Lack of financial capability is a foundational block for families to not only understand the financial system, but help be in engaged in key economic planning discussions that are impacting the type of industries in their communities, and through this their earning potential. Educating women empowers families and allows them to navigate through complicated financial spheres and to find their voice in city and county economic development discussions to ensure they have a say in the type of industry, jobs, and businesses in their communities that would support their economic mobility.
Mamas Con Más aims to increase use of trusted banking services, increase mother’s financial capability, avoid or stop the use of alternative banking services, and increase civic engagement in economic planning discussions. One of our approaches to the issue is using financial capability workshops work to educate families around financial topics, to reduce financial stress, increase financial health, and security. By educating mothers, we empower them to confidently navigate through challenging financial networks and make conscious financial decisions. SCCV workshops educate on financial concepts, but allot time to teaching healthy financial behaviors such as banking, saving, budgeting, and managing credit and debt. SCCV also offers credit building lending circle models and combines education about living wages and economic planning into their discussions.
We aim to improve community economic stability in the region. 65% of the population is in liquid asset poverty, meaning without sufficient liquid assets to subsist at the poverty level for three months in the absence of income. Additionally, 50% of the households are either unbanked or underbanked. These families cannot afford to use deceptive financial services because they pose a huge risk to their financial health. Families should be making their money work for them, and not paying others unfair fees.
Additionally, building awareness around banking services and offering education can change behaviors in families to avoid or stop using alternative banking services. We can measure our impact by leading the conversations around financial services in the community. Our focus is more towards advocacy by encouraging civic engagement. We also work with community leaders and elected officials to share the information to their constituents. Within community leader’s realm of power, we hope to influence community behavior to avoid these services. In addition, we make policy recommendations,
Mamas Con Más is valuable to the Latino community because we can educate families to make conscious decisions towards financial services and increase financial security. The more knowledge families obtain the more power they have to make healthy financial decisions. The Latina community faces multiple social and economic challenges. A key project goal is to educate the Latina community to better understand these challenges and give them the tools needed to overcome these barriers. In our community 50% of the population is unbanked or underbanked. By educating around banking services and financial products, we can increase participation. An increase of participation would mean that the use of alternative services will no longer be needed. For example, instead of paying $7 dollars to cash your check at a market, an individual can set up direct deposit to cash their checks for free. Those $7 dollars can now used to buy groceries or placed into a savings account for an emergency.
In addition, Mamas Con Más will work to develop advocacy tools and research to education and finlike elected officials in addressing local policies and economic development planning to incorporate Latina voices.
For over 25 years, Santa Cruz Community Ventures supports the community by challenging existing systems and building wealth in the community. Last year we offered a forum and toolkit to teach families how to protect their assets in case of deportation. SCCV also served as the fiscal sponsor in a rapid response to fund and support DACA renewals. SCCV is a Latina led and staffed organization where all our financial capability work is led by bilingual and bicultural financial coaches.
We will use the funds to pay for staff time, materials, outreach, advocacy, and community organizing around the issue. Funds will also cover two major events to host community forums.