BELLINGHAM, Wash., —Four families are graduating this month from an 18-month program at the Opportunity Council focused on increasing financial skills and earning cash incentives.

“Project X-it” engages families to exit poverty by working on family designed goals such as budgeting, education, family safety, employment and addressing past debt.  The program is available to families with incomes below the poverty line and enrolled in the agency’s early learning programs. Both parents and children actively participate in education and goal setting through this program.

“In addition to building financial skills for both generations, we coach our families through an individualized plan that includes group learning and one-to-one opportunities,” said David Webster, director of Early Learning and Family Services at the Opportunity Council.

“Each family’s journey is supported by a trained community mentor who helps problem-solve, guide, encourage and link them to resources to succeed in school and in life,” he added.

As families complete steps toward their goals, they receive deposits into an Individual Savings Accounts for adult(s) and Child Savings Account for enrolled children.

This year’s graduating families earned a combined total of $10,685 in incentivized goal completion. The financial incentives are made possible with a grant through WECU Education First grant and individual donations to the program.

Rochelle Perigo, Project X-It Specialist, said watching families break through barriers to find strength and confidence is empowering. “This program creates a community where it fosters support, individuality in goals, building skills and an inviting space to be open financial challenges and celebrate successes.” Perigo said.

Webster said Project X-it focuses on the whole family and includes healthy child development and school readiness for low-income children as well as financial education for families.

“It’s about removing barriers and building the capacity to withstand future challenges,” Webster said.  “Like for many of us, it comes down to having skills, community, and increased fiscal resources to make our way,” Webster summarized.  “This program provides all three.”

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Side note:

Could you be a family mentor?

Project X-It is looking for community members who can be a dedicated mentor that will engage families in building and supporting the financial goals. Mentors will be trained to work with families to develop goals and encourage families through challenges and celebrate successes. Mentors from all walks of life are needed to commit to Project X-it

For more information on this project, contact the Opportunity Council, 360-734-5121 or info@nulloppco.org.