Ways & Means complements our Development and Property Management activities by supporting residents in making the most out of their new housing and environment. Ways & Means staff seek to improve residents’ financial management skills, increase their opportunities to secure employment and advance their careers, encourage educational attainment for youth, and bring residents together to share their diverse array of skills and knowledge with one another and the broader community. By providing our residents with the opportunities, tools, and supportive structures they need to advance economically, we help them attain stability and create better lives and futures for their families.
Ways & Means improves residents’ financial knowledge and management skills to help them increase their income, save money, and build assets for the future. Ways & Means staff and financial literacy trainers from partner organizations act as financial coaches for residents, helping them set financial goals, monitoring their achievement of these goals, and linking them to community and web-based resources. We also provide residents with formal and informal educational offerings on topics such as budgeting, credit repair, homeownership, and financial planning. TCB has also received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation to partner with the national start up organization HelloWallet. HelloWallet provides an online financial guidance and management product and pledges to give away one free subscription to a low-income family for every five paid subscribers.
Our Career Development program assists residents in building job-related skills so they can increase their wages and achieve stable, career-track employment. Our residents' situations vary– some need support with job readiness and basic skill development, others need job training, and others need job referral and retention support. Therefore, TCB’s approach to career development is focused on individual coaching and emphasizes personal development up a ladder of increasing responsibility towards full-time career-track employment. TCB staff and partners offer coaching and more intensive guidance to unemployed and low-skilled adult residents in order to help them overcome their own barriers to employment and enter the workforce. At each TCB site, Ways & Means staff evaluate the local job market with a focus on high-growth industries that our residents can be trained to enter and advance in. Through enrollment in training courses and career-development internships, residents gain the skills needed to start a successful career in their chosen field. TCB also provides jobs and job referrals for teenage residents to help them gain work experience and strengthen their resumes.
Ways & Means is particularly committed to the youth at our sites. We focus on improving their academic performance and leadership skills while creating a supportive environment in which they can grow. Our Youth Development program is broken into four elements based on the ages of our young residents. For young children, we assist parents in finding high-quality early childhood services convenient to home or work and give parents tips for finding settings right for them. For children ages 5-11, we work with a strong provider to offer safe, structured after-school and summer programming focused on improving academic performance at the elementary school level, using a fun and engaging approach. We also offer after-school and summer programming for middle-school-age youth (ages 12-14), adding a focus on activities that engage youth in service to their communities and help them transition from elementary school and into high school. Our older teen program, for youth ages 15-19, enables teenage residents to design and implement projects on-site with support from Ways & Means coaches in order to encourage leadership and civic engagement. We connect teens to community resources designed to expose them to new environments and different career opportunities. We also help teens find paid employment both with TCB programs on site as well as with local businesses.
Our education advocates ensure linkages between the out-of-school programming and their schools, alignment of the provider partners with the academic achievement goals, and support with transitioning between programs. We also partner with organizations like Big Brothers/Big Sisters to offer mentors to all our youth, as we know that one of the most important elements in a child’s success is the presence of a consistent caring adult in their lives.
Our Community Engagement program complements our other Ways & Means initiatives by focusing on what members of the community can do to support each other, to effectively tap the knowledge that already exists within the community, and to develop strategies to supplement the tools TCB provides. To lay the groundwork for the other three Areas, our site-based staff coach residents in goal setting, help residents create plans to achieve their goals, and assist residents in following these plans. Our goal is that residents view staff as coaches and not simply as landlords.