For an individual living in poverty, especially deep poverty, life is experienced in a state of constant stress, making it especially difficult to deal with issues of family, health, finances, education, and meaningful employment.
Due to external factors outside of their control, executive functioning skills like planning and prioritizing are often compromised by the need to cope with immediate crises. Creating a manageable roadmap to self-sufficiency is nearly impossible without the proper supports.
Episcopal Community Services works in partnership with individuals by helping them identify their goals and coaching them as they take control of their lives and make progress toward goal completion.
This practice, Mobility Mentoring®, uses incentives, goal action plans, and a tool called the Bridge to Self-Sufficiency® to walk people through envisioning and accomplishing their goals. Goals are not prescribed, instead, participants are empowered to look within themselves to identify their strengths, articulate their personal definitions of success, and determine what it will take to get there.
One participant, Sarah, has the goal of earning her bachelor’s degree. A single mother, she determined that online courses better suit her lifestyle, but not having costly internet access stands in the way. Sarah is working with her coach to tackle this issue by prioritizing barriers and setting small goals laddering up to her educational aspirations. Together, they are exploring ways Sarah can budget better, have a trusted relative care for her daughter instead of paying for childcare, and get a library card to utilize free resources in the meantime.
In partnership with staff, big goals are tackled through smaller, more manageable goals and the roadmap to goal completion becomes clearer and more approachable. By setting and successfully achieving goals, an individual’s level of stress drops and their ability to improve their life improves significantly.
Our goal is that over time individuals and families will move out of poverty and have the skills and assets to achieve upward economic mobility, thus becoming their own drivers of change.
Mobility Mentoring® and the Bridge to Self-Sufficiency® are registered trademarks of Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath).