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Category Archives: Personal Empowerment

Claire Saenz, Looking in the ‘Mirror’ and Seeing the Self – The Good Men Project (blog)

Posted: August 11, 2017 at 6:08 pm

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Claire Saenz is a SMART Recovery Facilitator for SMART Recovery. It is an addiction recovery service without a necessary reference to a higher power or incorporation of a faith, or some faith-based system into it by necessity. Those can be used it, but they are not necessities. The system is about options. In this series, we look at her story, views, and expertise regarding addiction, having been an addict herself. This is session 1.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen:When it comes to the experience of addiction, what were your addiction and particular substance of choice?

Claire Saenz: My substance of choice was alcohol, which was coupled with an eating disorder and an anxiety disorder.

Jacobsen: What were the thoughts that ran through your mind as you were working to combat the addiction, to stop using the substance(s)?

Saenz: I was highly motivated when I decided to stop drinking, so my primary thought, initially, was that I was going to quit or die trying. I felt determined, but also extremely vulnerable because giving up alcohol meant that in many essential ways, I was giving up my sole coping mechanism.

Jacobsen: How did SMART Recovery compare to other services?

Saenz: Other services I used in my recovery were AA, individual therapy, and pharmaceutical treatment of my anxiety. I found SMART similar to AA in that it is also a peer support group. I found the social support aspect of both programs helpful. SMART was drastically different from AA in almost all other respects, however, and much more like the individual therapy I received.

SMARTs philosophy is one of personal empowerment rather than reliance on a higher power. The use of stigmatizing labels such as alcoholic or addict is discouraged. Direct discussion (cross-talk) among group participants is encouraged. Sponsorship is not part of the program. Group facilitators are not professionals, but they are trained in the SMART tools and meeting facilitation skills, and they are expected to adhere to a code of ethics.

Finally, SMART recognizes that recovery, while a process, is not necessarily a permanent one. While participants are encouraged to attend meetings for a significant time period and to become facilitators to pay it forward, we do not view recovery as being a permanent state. Instead, we achieve a new normal.

Jacobsen: What were some of the more drastic stories that you have heard of in your time as an addict, as a recovering addict, and now as a SMART Recovery facilitator?

Saenz: For the reasons mentioned above, I dont refer to myself as an addict or alcoholic, recovering or otherwise. If a label must be applied to my state, call me a person who has recovered from an addiction to alcohol.

As far as drastic stories, they fall into two categories: the carnage of addiction itself, and the carnage of one-size-fits-all addiction treatment where the one size is the twelve- step approach.

The carnage of addiction is simply limitless. I have lost dozens of friends and acquaintances to addiction-related causes, from organ failure to overdose, to suicide.

At one of my first AA meetings, I spent a few minutes talking to a nice young man who went home that night and hung himself. I know multiple people who have lost spouses and children to addiction. It is a dreadful condition that takes the lives of fine people, and the solutions we currently offer, as a society, are breathtakingly inadequate.

In terms of the consequences of one-size-fits-all treatment, it should come as no surprise that in a world of individuals, there will never be an approach to any physical or mental condition that will work the same way, or as well, for everyone. And yet for years, we have prescribed the exact same treatment to everyone with an addictive disorder.

Worse, what passes for treatment is often nothing more than expensive indoctrination into a free support group (12 step programs, themselves, are free)and if the patient fails to improve, the prescription ismore 12 step. Of course, this isnt working. The shocking thing is that we would ever expect it to work.

Jacobsen: How has religion infiltrated the recovery and addiction services world? Is this good or bad? How so?

Saenz: Twelve-step programs, which form the basis of most traditional treatment, are religious in nature. Adherents sometimes claim otherwise, but courts in the U.S. have nearly universally disagreed on that point.

As one jurist put it, The emphasis placed on God, spirituality, and faith in a higher power by twelve-step programs such as A.A. or N.A. clearly supports a determination that the underlying basis of these programs is religious and that participation in such programs constitutes a religious exercise. It is an inescapable conclusion that coerced attendance at such programs, therefore, violates the Establishment Clause.Warburton v. Underwood, 2 F.Supp.2d 306, 318 (W.D.N.Y.1998).

Because they are religious in nature, such programs may not be the best choice for, and certainly should not the only option given to, atheists or individuals with an internal locus of control.

Beyond that, the religious atmosphere of the programs can, and sometimes does breed an environment where seasoned members of the program become almost like gurus, given an almost clergy-like status and an inordinate amount of power over newer and more vulnerable members. Sometimes this power is used to exploit. The classic exploitation is sexual13th stepping is a common euphemism used to describe the practice of veteran members manipulating newcomers into engaging in sexual relationshipsbut emotional and financial exploitation can happen as well.

But the most tragic consequence of the infiltration of religion into addiction treatment is not, in my view, the religious aspect per se but the fact that the focus on that approach excludes all others. The real tragedy is that people are dying because they are never even told of other approaches that might help them.

In my own experience, 19 years ago when I sought treatment for my addiction to alcohol, I was told that the only option for survival was to become an active AA member. Being the rule follower I am, I did exactly that. I spent the next nine years of my life going to AA meetings and attempting to fit my fundamentally humanist worldview within the confines of that program.

I eventually found this impossible and left the program. In the aftermath of that, I had to re-examine every thought and belief I had developed in the time I had been abstinent to determine whether those thoughts and beliefs were my own or had been implanted during my AA years. I found this an extraordinarily painful process, in many ways as painful as quitting in the first place.

When I found SMART Recovery and realized that it had been possible, all along, for me to have received social support in a manner that honored who I was a person, I cried. I thought not only of myself and all the pain Id gone through because I wasnt told of other options besides AA but of all the others who had experienced the same thing.

This would be equally true regardless of the specifics of the treatment being offered because there is no one approach that is right for everyone. The real tragedy is the pain that has been caused, and the lives that have been lost, because one approach has become too dominant.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. He works as an Associate Editor and Contributor for Conatus News, Editor and Contributor to The Good Men Project, a Board Member, Executive International Committee (International Research and Project Management) Member, and as the Chair of Social Media for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, Executive Administrator and Writer for Trusted Clothes, and Councillor in the Athabasca University Students Union. He contributes to the Basic Income Earth Network, The Beam, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Check Your Head, Conatus News, Humanist Voices, The Voice Magazine, and Trusted Clothes. If you want to contact Scott: [emailprotected]; website: http://www.in-sightjournal.com; Twitter: https://twitter.com/InSight_Journal.

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Claire Saenz, Looking in the 'Mirror' and Seeing the Self - The Good Men Project (blog)

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Quota for three tribes in Arunachal pageant: Case of cross-wired activism – Hindustan Times

Posted: at 6:08 pm

Inner beauty and self-esteem can be your award winning virtues if you are five feet two inches tall, have passed Class 12 and belong to one of the three tribes of Lisu, Nah and Puroik.

It is not a beauteous sentence but the only way to sum up the quota system proposed for the three underprivileged tribes by the Miss Arunachal Beauty Pageant. Ahead of auditions for the 10th edition next month, the organisers of the contest have announced a direct entry by reserved quota for contestants from Lisu, Nah and Puroik minority tribes. The ethnic character of these tribes, their migration and roots in places as far as China or their history of political de-recognition followed by a deprived if restored citizenship in India makes them a very curious anthropological case study. But to offer them affirmative action via a beauty contest is a classic case of cross-wired and complicated social activism.

Arunachal Pradesh has been making a virtue out of positive discrimination. Last year, 59-year-old Hage Tado Nanya from Ziro village was crowned Mrs Arunachal. Married at 13, she participated to raise awareness against domestic violence, gender discrimination and polygamy. Many contestants in that pageant were victims of polygamy and violence.

Beauty contests have always had discrimination and commercial gain wired into their plumbing. The Miss Universe contest launched in 1952 a year after Miss World was a marketing stunt by Pacific Knitting Mills, a California clothing company after the winner of another rival pageant Miss America refused to wear one of its swimsuits. The point was to sell a swimsuit, not crown a woman for beings gods blue-eyed kid.

Such contests have long been debated as hotbeds of female objectification and commercial opportunism. They confuse the psychological self esteem of a person with her body attributes. But despite loud protests and sloganeering across the world, they have never really faded away from popular culture.

Even in these last two years when persuasive new arguments of colour, race, plus size and body positivism got added to fundamental feminist concerns, no society or country has weaned away entirely from beauty pageants.

Whats happened instead, including in India, is an improvisation of the beauty contest model. Beauty has not only become accepting of diversity but it is now outraged and activist like. The old contest model of dressing up, lining up, walking out before a jury to be judged for a set of agreed upon virtues, should have been scrapped to wipe out its inherent flaws. Instead it has been made bigger with room for the violated, the ostracised, the downtrodden, the gay, the married (thats a separate category of contests), the physically challenged and now the tribal. There are beauty contests for incarcerated women across the world. Bom Paston Womens Prison in Brazil holds a contest ironically titled Miss Jail whereas Lithuanias Penal Labour Colony calls it Miss Captivity.

In India too what we now have is an alternative culture of contests that still in some form worship the body positivism or whatever. Indias first transgender pageant Indian Super Queen was launched in 2010 by Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, the Mumbai-based transgender activist to reiterate the beauty and esteem of an otherwise ridiculed community. Mr Gay India, Nepals Ms Dalit Queen (launched in 2013) and a contest organised for visually challenged girls by Mumbais National Association for the Blind last year add to the list. What exactly are such contestants contesting for though is hard to define if it is not dressed up beauty?

Back to Miss Arunachal Pradesh.

The three tribes chosen via quota entry to the pageant come with a defensive explanation, which says it is to celebrate inner beauty and raise self confidence and self esteem. Whether self esteem is directly proportional to winning or participating in a beauty pageant has still not been proved by any scientifically designed anthropological study done with beauty queens across the world. But what is worse is creating reservation for an ideological and existential talent as vague as like inner beauty for which there are no barometers of measurement on a scale of 1 to 10.

The question we may need to address as a society is why in the first place do we need beauty contests to address societal issues like LGBT rights, or rehabilitate downtrodden tribes like the Lisu, Nah and Puroik?

Perhaps it is easier to find sponsors for events that glamourise anything victimhood, violence, natural and cosmetic beauty or physical handicaps but hard to raise a hue and cry on personal empowerment programmes that dont parade the dressed up body posturing to seek notice.

Shefalee Vasudev is a fashion journalist and author

The views expressed are personal

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Govt has taken revolutionary steps for youth empowerment: CM – Pakistan Today

Posted: at 6:08 pm

LAHORE:Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that more than 60 percent population of Pakistan consists of the youth and added that they are our precious asset and provision of resources for youth empowerment is a beneficial investment to secure the bright future of the country. The youth are a symbol of bright future and the nation has attached high hopes with its brilliant and talented youth.

In his message on the occasion of International Day of the Youth, Shehbaz Sharif said that the Punjab government has taken revolutionary steps for youth empowerment and welfare. He said that the purpose of the celebration of this day is to highlight the adoption of steps so that the youth can fully utilise their potential along with ensuring the solution of their problems.

He said that the talented youth of Pakistan has proved its mettle in every field and the government is giving special attention to improving their skills. Serious efforts are being made for the solution of problems of the youth at every level, he added. He said that educational stipends have been given to thousands of low-income families from Punjab Educational Endowment Fund so that their children could study without being burdened. Similarly, soft loans worth billions of rupees have been distributed to the jobless youth to economically empower them.

He vowed to change the destiny of the nation by giving latest knowledge to the youth and said that the dream of national development will be materialised by their empowerment.

COUNTRY PROSPEROUS BECAUSE OF NS:

In a statement issued on Friday, Shehbaz Sharif commenting on the Lahore-bound rally of Nawaz Sharif and his supporters, saying that the reception of Nawaz Sharif is proof of peoples tremendous love for him and it also shows that the masses want national development. He added that Nawaz Sharif and the people are inseparable.

The people have always reposed their full confidence over the policies of PML-N and the party has also adopted practical steps for national development, instead of indulging in any lip service, he said. Due to the wonderful policies of Nawaz Sharif, the country is fast moving towards prosperity and development, he added.

Shehbaz Sharif said that national development and public welfare are our prime targets, while the claimants of so-called change have wasted their time on roads during the last four years; instead of indulging in public service, negative politics has been their agenda, he said. He said the credit for setting up energy projects for getting rid of the darkness goes to the PML-N and Pakistan is also economically stronger than ever before.

He said that vibrant, prosperous and bright Pakistan is our destination and the defeated political cabal obstructing this journey are an enemy of the nation who has obstructed this public welfare program just for their personal gains. These are those elements which have been rejected by the people in general as well as in by-elections. These elements will face historic defeat in the General Elections of 2018, he added. He said that the popularity of the PML-N has diminished the politics of the opponents.

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What does a reconciled town look like? – Toward Reconciliation

Posted: August 10, 2017 at 6:02 am

How do you measure reconciliation? Thats the question Im wrestling with, as I continue working on my investigation about reconciliation in small Canadian towns and it's leftme scratching my head.

Thats why Im canvassing academics for answers, including one whos examined what reconciliation looks like around the world (likeCyprus, for instance). But Ill have my work cut out for me. In its report Reconciliation In Practice, the nonpartisan United States Institute of Peace reported that indicators used to measure reconciliation including self-awareness, personal empowerment and motivation are generally weak, especially at the individual and government levels.

Can you refer me to someone whos done research into measuring reconciliation? Do you have suggestions for how it should be measured? Tell me viaFacebook,Twitteroremail.

I watched the fallout from last weeks decision by Petronas toshelveits Lelu Island LNG project on B.C.s north coast, which my colleagues atDiscourse Mediahavedocumentedextensively. Theonline bullying,intimidationandbickeringbetween Indigenous people otherwise known as lateral violence after the Petronas decision was particularly interesting to me.

Corporate and government officials who promote LNG projects to First Nations dont live in those communities, and dont have to deal with the fallout if a project is cancelled. According toTimes ColonistwriterLes Leyne, the benefits to First Nations were key selling points; they included alleviating poverty, boosting employment and community improvements. First Nations must take a critical look at how the promise of such benefits from these projectsimpactthe socio-cultural fabric of their communities.

Whereas some community members see benefits as practical, others view them as bribery. In a 2016Discourse Mediastoryabout the Lelu Island LNG project, the paving of a road in Lax Kwalaams is referred to in a benefits package circulated to community members as an inducement for good faith negotiations on LNG. Now that the Petronas deal is cancelled, theres no project to fight over but theres still infighting. If First Nations communities dont heal and learn from this, the same problem will play out over and over again.

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What does a reconciled town look like? - Toward Reconciliation

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QBP honors industry members at SaddleDrive – Bicycle Retailer

Posted: at 6:02 am

TRUCKEE, Calif.(BRAIN) QBP recognized several industry members at its recent SaddleDrive event at Northstar Resort here.

Leah Benson, the owner of Gladys Bikes in Portland, Oregon, received the Londonderry Award, which recognizes bicycle industry professionals who work to encourage, promote, and develop women's cycling and women in the cycling industry.

Gladys Bikes operates as a full-service repair and sales shop known just as much for its comprehensive Saddle Library as its inclusive environment.

"With a manifesto that includes statements such as, 'You fit in here. We promise,' Benson continues to stand out as a leading figure in generating more awareness about WTF (women, trans and femme) cyclists," QBP said.

Benson said, "In my original business plan for the shop, there was no talk about buying strategies, profits, long-term growth, or the like. Instead, the bulk of the 10+ page document outlined how the shop would work to encourage more women to ride, how we could develop a space that respected folks of all gender expressions, and how we would use bikes as a tool for personal empowerment and community building. Four years later, I now understand that we also have to turn a profit, but am still just as committed to cultivating a business with a purpose that goes beyond dollars and cents. And so, I'm beyond honored to have that aspect of the work of Gladys recognized. This means more than hitting any sales goal ever could."

Saris won QBP's Vendor of the Year Award, presented to companies and brands that not only have a strong partnership with QBP, but have worked with the company to both serve bike shops and advance the cycling industry.

QBP said, "Since its inception in 1989, Saris has been committed to keeping the independent bicycle retailer at the forefront of everything it does. Whether it be through community involvement, best-in-class dealer margins and marketing, or new innovative product, Saris is a prime example of a brand that is painting a bright future for independent bicycle retailers."

Saris founder Chris Fortune said, "When we look at our industry and the community, we've been very successful as a company and we're fortunate individually, and with that comes responsibility to give back, whether that's to the cycling community or the Madison community."

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EDITORIAL, Aug. 9: Republican leader’s 1898 tweet a pathetic … – StarNewsOnline.com

Posted: at 6:01 am

StarNews Editorial Board

Its nice to see people learn their history, but a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Case in point: the Honorable Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party.

Responding to a Democratic Party tweet Sunday on the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Woodhouse accused Democrats of being responsible for killing black people in Wilmington in 1898.

Well, technically, that's true. The perpetrators of the 1898 insurrection/coup -- who burned down a black-owned newspaper, forced the citys legally elected Republican leadership to resign, more or less at gunpoint, and killed an unknown number of black residents -- were overwhelmingly affiliated with the then-conservative Democratic Party.

But mostly, thats a cutesy debaters trick. A reasonable person realizes that the Democratic Party has changed over the past 120 years.

Following Woodhouses logic, perhaps Democrats should start tweeting about the GOPs role in the Great Depression and the number of Republicans who opposed entry into World War II, giving aid and comfort to the Nazis. Should we blame contemporary Republicans for the burning of Atlanta and Charleston during the Civil War?

In 1898, the North Carolina Democratic Party consisted entirely of white men. The state Democratic Party in 2017 includes a large number of African Americans. In fact, more than 80 percent of black registered voters in North Carolina are Democrats.

In the 1960s, with Democrats like John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Terry Sanford supporting civil rights, and the attraction of Barry Goldwater and the GOPs Southern Strategy, white Southerners began to exit the Democratic Party. Most black voters have long since pledged allegiance to the Democrats.

Wed suggest that if Tar Heel Republicans want to make inroads among black voters, they not only disavow these type of antics, but also stop pursuing voting limitations that disproportionately affect African-Americans, and draw election districts that can at least pass the muster of the courts.

The Republican Party should be able to appeal to black Americans with a positive message, especially on issues like personal empowerment, economic opportunity and school choice.

So will Republicans reach out to black voters on those important issues, or is the state GOP content to let Woodhouse sit back and blast off his usual bromides, hoping to fire up the base and score cheap political points? Is that really the message they have for black voters?

No wonder only 3 percent of the states black registered voters are Republicans. Frankly, were surprised the number is that high.

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Alameda County Women’s Empowerment Program Among Best In The County – Patch.com

Posted: August 9, 2017 at 5:04 am

Alameda County Women's Empowerment Program Among Best In The County
Patch.com
The program, offered in English and Spanish, helps women develop personal, professional and financial skills to assist them in breaking the cycle of violence and poverty. It also includes detailed job development sessions that serve as pathways to paid ...

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Runsewe repackages AFAC – The Nation Newspaper

Posted: at 5:04 am

Director-General National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe has reiterated his pledge to unbundle the huge potential in culture sector to strategically drive the process of economic diversification in line with the government policy thrust.

Speaking in Abuja on the update for this years edition of African Arts and Crafts Expo, Runsewe recalled that on assumption of office some months ago, he made commitment to all Nigerians to reposition the Arts and Culture sector as a key player in the nations economy with the capacity to generate wealth and employment as well as contribute significantly to the nations Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to him, this informed the theme of this years edition of the expo; Our Culture: The Untapped Treasure, which he noted was carefully selected to draw attention to the vast opportunities in the sector, and mobilize Nigerians to take advantage of the opportunities therein for personal empowerment and the economic development of Nigeria. This years African Arts and Craft Expo, which promises to be the largest of its kind in Africa, holds between August 27th and September 17th at Abuja.

Runsewe disclosed that the council has embarked on wide and extensive consultations with stakeholders and key players in the industry, with a view to aggregating, harmonizing and mainstreaming all shades of opinions aimed at rebranding the Expo while also carrying out aggressive communication and marketing campaigns to raise national and international awareness for the event.

He noted that the responses so far were quite overwhelming saying, this has greatly encouraged us and further fueled our determination to expand the scope of the event and make the edition truly the best amongst its peers in Africa, in line with our leadership role in the continent.

On my assumption of office about three months ago, I made a firm commitment to all Nigerians to reposition the Arts and Culture sector as a key player in the nations economy with the capacity to generate wealth and employment as well as contribute significantly to the nations Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Accordingly, the new vision of the Council under my leadership is encapsulated in the statement culture: the new revenue base for Nigeria.

This vision statement is far from being a mere slogan. It is borne out of our firm conviction that there are abounding opportunities in the Arts and Culture Sector that could be harnessed and channeled towards reinventing our economy.

He assured that he alongside his management was leaving no stone unturned in making this years exposition a unique one featuring unprecedented and memorable events especially in packaging and delivery.

He stated that the massive construction and renovation works ongoing at the site affirming the essence was to give practical expression to the determination of elevating the exposition to an international standard that Nigeria and the whole of Africa would be proud of.

In his words, before this time, the expo had been held here on a bare, dusty and uneven ground. We have now graded and tarred the main bowl of the exhibition arena, measuring about 1.5 hectares. We plan to also do landscaping and beautification.

On issues of security, he said that we now have a police post within the premises of the village for 24-hour security cover. For the first time, we have illuminated the entire village with flood lights. We are also constructing and renovating environment-friendly public utilities to make the arena a conducive social environment for our exhibitors, delegates and clients.

Innovations expected at AFAC 2017 include, skill acquisition programme in order to build or enhance the capacity of our creative artists in various areas, Chefs will be invited to teach Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike the rudiments of Nigerian cuisines, experts would also be available to teach interested participants the simple ways of communicating in our major indigenous languages, there will be hosting of Cultural Attaches in Nigeria to a Pre-AFAC Dinner including an Investment Round-Table during the main event amongst others.

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Here’s What Financial Empowerment Centers Accomplished in 5 … – Next City

Posted: at 5:04 am

When Erik Cole was elected to council in Nashville in 2003, predatory lending was already a hot issue in his district, which included parts of East Nashville.

My district had a corridor that still has a significant number of pawn shops and payday loan stores, says Cole, who also encountered predatory loan cases in his job as executive director of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. In 2003 when I ran, the biggest comment I heard was, can we not have any more of that in our neighborhood. That was from rich, poor, black, white.

Cole worked with other council members to pass zoning legislation to restrict new pawn shops, payday lender storefronts, adult bookstores and some other unsavory businesses, he says, on that corridor. Unfortunately, Tennessee Quick Cash, a payday lender with one storefront already on the corridor and plans to open a second, successfully sued the city to lift the restrictions. Since then, the city has passed new measures, which payday lenders continue to try to circumvent.

In 2013, Cole left council and became the first director of the citys Office of Financial Empowerment. In his new capacity, Cole led Nashvilles adoption of the Financial Empowerment Centers (FEC) model, originally pioneered in New York City. The results of that work were published today by the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE), the Bloomberg Philanthropies-funded initiative that supports the expansion of the FEC model to other cities.

The centers provide free, professional, one-on-one financial counseling for clients as a public service. Cities bring a local university onboard to train counselors from nonprofits. Nashville partnered with Belmont University and United Way. Counselors are typically embedded, full-time or part-time, at a site where other public services are provided, like welfare or food stamps or community health clinics.

CFEs newly released findings cover the period from 2013 to 2015. In Nashville, out of 1,708 FEC clients over that period who returned for at least a second visit (allowing the program to track outcomes), 302 clients reduced their debt, 231 increased their credit score, 220 increased their savings, and 175 clients opened or transitioned to a conventional bank account over that period.

Philadelphia, Denver, Lansing and San Antonio also adopted the model. Overall, 5,305 FEC clients across the five cities recorded 14,493 outcomes over the 30-month evaluation period, adding up to a reduction of $22.5 million in cumulative personal debt and an increase of $2.7 million in cumulative saving.

We found our best integrations were in workforce development and job placement sites, domestic violence shelters, and prison reentry programs, says Cole.

One of Nashvilles part-time FEC sites was at the Tony Sudekum and J.C. Napier public housing communities, in partnership with a Jobs Plus program site (HUDs onsite workforce development program that provides a springboard to new careers for public housing residents).

When NYC pioneered the FEC model, it started with just one site, in the Bronx, with private philanthropic support from the insurance industry, including AIG. This was back in 2008, when the company was at the epicenter of the financial crisis. Demand for services was high, which prompted the program to expand to three other NYC sites in 2009, still with only philanthropic funding. After there was evidence of sufficient demand and sufficient quality of services in terms of outcomes for clients, in 2011 the city picked up the bill and scaled up the program, which is now offered at 22 sites around NYC.

The national replications are following suit, with 100 percent private funding for the centers in the first three years. Of 48 cities that expressed interest in the model, five were chosen based on an evaluation of each citys relationships with local partners and other assets.

The biggest thing was, who wanted us, what agencies had already identified financial coaching and counseling was an element that could drive good outcomes for them, says Cole. NYCs model was great because we knew where to start, places where benefits were provided, places where case management services happen, where domestic violence intake happens.

Each city tweaked the model. In Nashville, Cole explains, they had to account for a larger base of homeowners compared to NYC, where a majority of households rent, especially low-income households. They also tracked the household impact of payday lending, which is outlawed in New York state.

In terms of reach, across the five-city replication, the median monthly income of FEC clients was $1,535, 70.6 percent were women, 62.1 percent had children, and 42 percent were employed full-time (14 percent were employed part-time).

In terms of housing, 53.5 percent of FEC clients were renters, 21.8 percent were homeowners, 12.8 percent reported living with family or friends, 3.4 percent lived in public housing, and 6.5 percent reported being homeless. Nearly 47 percent of FEC clients across the five cities were black, 26.2 percent were Latino, and 17.5 percent were white. Ninety-three percent of clients were U.S. citizens.

Similar to NYC, since CFEs funding ended, cities have picked up the programs and funded them, in full or in part. Cole still oversees the Nashville effort in his new position as the citys chief resilience officer. Its a natural connection to me to think about what is a persons personal financial resilience and what is the impact of that on the community, he says.

The period in which these FEC replications took place has also been a transformative time for the financial empowerment field. New insights and data coming out of the U.S. Financial Diaries Project, especially the publication of The Financial Diaries earlier this year, have dramatically shifted perspectives on how to do this work. Among other insights, the financial diaries research found that for about five months a year, households earned incomes that were either 25 percent higher or lower than their yearly average income.

Other researchers are taking note. Income volatility is the new reality for a majority of American households, according to a Pew study this year that took inspiration from the financial diaries work.

It is truly transformative for our industry, says Jonathan Mintz, founding president of CFE. Its that granular of a reimagining and understanding of what people are going through and how they really think about getting through not their year, not their month, but their week.

Mintz, who led the creation and expansion of FECs in NYC as commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, gives an example of somebody who has to replace a broken muffler within the next two weeks before the neighbors start complaining. So they save $200 over the next two weeks, but because they had to spend those savings within the same month for a new muffler, the FEC counselor wasnt capturing that data on monthly or yearly snapshots.

One of the things that we heard from counselors and that we learned from the financial diaries is, if you take a monthly or yearly snapshot on how somebody builds savings, youre missing all the energy in between that came and went, says Mintz.

CFE is now supporting a pilot on top of existing FEC replications in Philadelphia and Nashville to learn what happens when they start to document and support shorter-term savings goals.

Were now starting to measure what are your shorter-term savings goals, what are your shorter-term savings successes, and were measuring whether were capturing a lot of the information were missing of effort and success, says Mintz.

Through the existing FEC client surveys, which also ask questions like how much control do clients feel they have over their own finances, CFE is also trying to measure whether acknowledging the more granular efforts and successes make FEC clients feel more control over their finances.

In other words, if somebody is feeling like these shorter-term victories are being called out and acknowledged, does that make them feel empowered sooner, and does that make them start investing in these energies more, says Mintz.

Maybe FEC clients know more about financial literacy than most people give them credit for. Maybe what they need isnt more information, but more support.

Its not that literacy doesnt matter, its that when people are in trouble they need help, they dont need information, Mintz adds. This should not be a box that should be checked off so easily.

More help is coming. Also today, CFE announced it has opened the application process to replicate the FEC program in 12 more cities or counties.

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Here's What Financial Empowerment Centers Accomplished in 5 ... - Next City

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NCAC boss solicits support for African Expo – Vanguard

Posted: August 8, 2017 at 4:03 am

By Gabriel Olawale

The Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe has re-iterated his pledge to unbundle the huge potentials in the culture sector to strategically drive the process of economic diversification in line with the policy thrust of the present administration.

Speaking ahead of the forthcoming African Arts and Craft Expo, AFAC slated for August 27th to September 17th in Abuja, Runsewe said the theme of this years edition of African Arts and Crafts Expo; Our Culture: The Untapped Treasure, was carefully selected.

The theme was carefully selected to draw attention to the vast opportunities in the sector, and mobilize Nigerians to take advantage of the opportunities therein for personal empowerment and the economic development of Nigeria, he said.

While seeking the support of the mass media in a bid to ensure maximum media coverage of the event, Runsewe said; On my assumption of office about three months ago, I made a firm commitment to all Nigerians to reposition the Arts and Culture sector as a key player in the nations economy with the capacity to generate wealth and employment as well as contribute significantly to the nations Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Accordingly, the new vision of the Council under my leadership is encapsulated in the statement culture: the new revenue base for Nigeria.

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NCAC boss solicits support for African Expo - Vanguard

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