Providing Girls with Keys to Success
September 2014 - Young women attending Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern High School are fortunate to be able to participate in Skills to Pay the Bills, a program at Bristol Youth Services (BYS) that leads young women to understand how to create a personal budget, including: housing, food, other expenses and the importance of saving money for a “rainy day”. According to BYS Director Eileen McNulty and program coordinator Alyson Phelan, the program, which has been partially funded from $3,270 in grants from the Women & Girls’ Fund the past two years, introduces key financial concepts to girls who have little understanding of financial decisions.
As a starting point, each participant creates a “vision board” to illustrate the things they would like to have and who they want to become in the future. That is where the girls get their first reality check. A local realtor takes them apartment shopping as a means for learning what questions to ask. They learn that heat, electricity, cable, phone and internet are usually not included. This leads to discussions about how much you need to earn at a job to pay for an apartment, food, clothing and other necessities and luxuries, such as a car.
Knowing how much they need to earn leads to conversations about careers, a field trip to the Tunxis Community College campus, creation of a résumé, discussion of appropriate interview attire and mock job interviews.
Thanks to the generosity of local banks, girls in the Skills to Pay the Bills program go on bank field trips to learn about opening up savings or checking accounts. ShopRite of Bristol helps the girls learn about the cost of groceries and about healthy eating habits. Cooking healthy meals or snacks is a weekly event.
Cassandra, one of the program participants, stated that “I grew as a person from this program, and connected with people that I didn't think I could connect with; it also showed me things that my school doesn't teach us. We learned how to cook, stay healthy, do yoga, look for affordable and nice apartments and how to write out checks. Skills to Pay the Bills was a GREAT group to be part of!”