BlackFem, Inc.: Building Opportunities for Women of Color

BlackFem,Inc
Young girls participating in the BlackFem, Inc. program (BlackFem.org)

Women of color have higher college completion rates than their male counterparts, but have zero or negative wealth. How is this possible? Well, the current sociopolitical system in America is structured to continually oppress women of color. Since 2007, the median wealth for Black and Latina women is between $100-$120, which is devastatingly low.

Based out of New York, BlackFem, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to building opportunities for women of color so, in the future, they can attain and build wealth. Chloe Mckenzie, the 24 year-old founder and CEO of BlackFem, started this organization after witnessing flaws and gaps in financial services while working as a trader at J.P. Morgan. “I felt as though I was not serving in such a way that I could feel as though I was truly helping those less fortunate,” Chloe explains.  Her organization has dedicated programs for girls as young as 3, and women through adulthood.

One of their programs, Money Does Grow on Trees, is centered around saving and compound interest and is taught from Pre-K to 2nd grade. Each participant in this program opens a savings account by the end. One participant, Azariah, left this program knowing how to make a balance sheet and plan out what assets she will have when she gets older. I am pretty sure she knows more than I do about assets and compound interest. The knowledge she is acquiring through these programs is both important and beneficial to her success as she gets older. You go, girl!

The goal is not to make women of color rich, but to provide the necessary tools to break this cycle of oppression and to empower women and girls of color to believe they can be wealthy. Gaining these tools and resources in order to obtain wealth and financial knowledge isn’t just a personal gain, but a generational one. Many women who have participated in the BlackFem programs continually reiterate that this lack of access to financial tools comes from years of denied access for their parents, grandparents, and so on. By gaining this access, they can then pass this knowledge down to their children, so they can utilize these tools and lead a successful life.

BlackFem, additionally, has an At School After School program with a school bank. This program has three essential components: 1) The school bank, where students create student credit reports for their peers at school, 2) the school currency, which students earn as their credit score increases, and 3) the the school store, where students can use their currency to purchase things like school supplies and movie tickets. This program is designed to give the students a hands-on experience with balancing and budgeting money and credit that they have earned through class attendance and homework completion. BlackFem will be partnering with 20 schools in high-poverty communities beginning next school year. To learn more about the after school programs and how you could help, please visit their school offerings page here.

BlackFem’s goal is to help 5,000 women and girls of color by the end of 2017, but they can’t do it without your help. Please visit their website to donate or get involved through volunteering, sponsoring, or bringing programs to your local schools. Help these women and girls out there succeed and gain the financial literacy they deserve.

Follow them on Twitter and visit their website today!

Twitter: @Black_Fem

Website: http://www.blackfem.org

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Sister District, Oh the Time Has Come

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Like-minded organizations have recently emerged with the mission to fight gerrymandering. One of the grassroots organizations at the forefront of this initiative is the Sister District Project. Along with allies (Code Blue, Flippable, Resurgent Left, Swing Left, and Adopt-A-State) they are working to overcome election obstacles in the wake of the 2010 redistricting designed by Republicans for Republicans.

gerrymander 

[jer-i-man-der, ger-]

noun
1. U.S. Politics. the dividing of a state, county, etc., into election districts so as to give one political party a majority in many districts while concentrating the voting strength of the other party into as few districts as possible.                                     [-dictonary.com]
States are able to redraw their electoral maps every 10 years after census data is collected. This among many reasons is why local and state elections are so important. Every 10 years, elected officials who you probably don’t even have on your radar are able to design districts that benefit their political party. Sister District Project (SDP) focuses volunteer efforts to support strategically important, winnable races across the country. California attorney Rita Bosworth, is the founder and visionary of Sister District.
SDP matches teams from blue and red states to work together for local, state, and federal elections. By volunteering you are signing up for a local district team. When election time comes around, you’ll be paired with another team in another district, your “Sister District.” As a volunteer you can expect to be asked for small donations, to participate in fundraisers, push agendas on social media, phone-banking, and if possible in person canvassing or tabling.  June to November is the busy season. 
Go to the website to find your team. Sister District is perfect for anyone in blue districts wanting to help outside their area or for blue voters drowning in a sea of red. 

“Together, we will ensure that all Americans have equal representation and our government works for all people, not just the minority in power.”

 

 

Get Some Sun and Vote Solar

xvote-solar-logo-900.png.pagespeed.ic.XCiXIiO1oEVote Solar is a non profit organization working at the state level to support policies and programs bringing solar energy to the mainstream. The organization started in 2002 out of California but now also has a presence in Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, and DC and it’s only growing. With an administration who refuses to acknowledge climate change let alone fund research, Vote Solar is now more important than ever.

Americans want clean energy but are also used to the system already in place. The transition to solar may be foreign but its perks mean nothing but positive things for the planet. Vote Solar focuses on five key program areas: Community Shared Solar, Incentives and Market Drivers, Low-Income Solar Access, Building a Modern Grid, Net and Metering and Rates.

For the solar newbie, here’s what that breaks down to:

Community shared solar means encouraging homeowners, business owners, and landlords to have rooftops suitable for the solar market. Most rooftops are shaded or unsuitable to effectively use solar power.

Incentives and Market Drivers is promoting policy that incites tax payers and business owners to consider going solar. Why should you contribute to the amount of renewable energy on the grid?….This is where that question gets answered.

Low-Income Solar Access  focuses its mission to the approximately 22 million low income families nationwide. By informing this community to the savings and jobs that come along with solar power, it builds a strong foundation to spread the perk far and wide.

Build a Modern Grid. Our current infrastructure relies on fossil fuels. In order to become independent of this fossil-based infrastructure, extensive planning must take place. This is where Vote Solar brainstorms and executes plans to use renewable resources to power our grid.

Net Metering and Rates. Right now if you are a solar customer, many utility companies slap unnecessary and exploitative fees on your bill. This is where Vote Solar fights these fees and your rights to use solar power.

The organization has an impressive team behind it, but can’t get anywhere without support and action from every day citizens. Join Vote Solar to get emails for action alerts and to stay in the know. There is so much potential for solar power and it’s important to let your policymakers know you support that progress.