Jazzy* was looking for resources due to recent challenges with domestic violence and housing insecurity. She was struggling to stay in school, with her primary challenge being her limited financial resources. She knew she couldn’t afford to move out of her current living situation and support herself independently. Moreover, she did not have family to turn to for support. The situation caused her to become distraught and she started questioning if she had it in her to finish college.
Jazzy discovered United Way Bay Area’s SparkPoint program and made an appointment to find out if there were any helpful resources. SparkPoint® Centers work with families to meet their basic needs, increase their income, build their credit, increase their savings, and reduce their debt. Financial coaches work one-on-one with clients to recognize behavioral outcomes, set goals, brainstorm strategies, and set realistic action plans.
SparkPoint at Chabot College was able to assist her with securing two on-campus jobs and getting her financial aid reinstated. This allowed her to have the income to find a safer living situation on her own. The support around her financial needs helped to stabilize her so she could focus back on school. Jazzy had been struggling for four years with finding a career focus. However, her experience with receiving support helped her make the decision to pursue a career as an instructor at the community college and would allow her to be able to help other students like her. Once she made this decision, she felt focused and determined. While her original intention was to earn an AA degree, she quickly pivoted to focus on a transfer degree (AA-T) in English. She earned her transfer degree and was accepted into a state university to complete her degree.
In asking her what made the difference, she shared that more than the technical support, it was the relationship to supportive staff that really helped her. Receiving periodic but ongoing encouragement, validation, and care from staff was the difference maker in getting her through.
*Names in this story have been changed to protect the individual