Living in poverty is very stressful. And being stressed has a bad impact on the brain- our memory slips, we become more irritable and it becomes a lot harder to make good decisions. All taken together, it then becomes really hard to leave poverty and regain control. So what’s the solution?
Funded by the US government and private donations, Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) is a Boston-based non-profit that offers one-on-one mentoring services to low-income families. But there’s a difference. Providing its services for free, it doesn’t just work on parenting skills or job training like other community services.
With its family program, the Intergen Project, EMPath help people improve abilities that underly good parenting skills and working in a professional environment like self-control and decision-making. And it doesn’t just do this to improve national statistics. Instead, its goal is to help people become emotionally self-sufficient so they can continue to make and achieve goals that keep them and their children out of poverty for good even without the program.
How They Do it
Helping parents and children alike identify where they’d like to be, they help break down their aims into smaller, more achievable goals.
For example, instead of being immediately launched into a new job to support their family, parents may be supported to address any underlying mental health issues first. They could also be encouraged to find daycare for their children and go back to education so they can access a better-paying job.
Meanwhile, children are shown how to follow routines by age 5. By age 11, they’re shown how to find multiple ways to solve problems and by age 18; identify a career path.
Interestingly enough, to encourage each person to reach their goals, the organisation rewards each goal reached with financial rewards from $25 to several hundred dollars.
Does it Work?
Yes. In 2016 alone, EMPath managed to help 1,182 people with their family program. And as it turned out, all of the families involved managed to both set and achieve their goals. What’s more, 86% of families reported more order in their households, while 78% of children involved felt they gained more control over their lives.
EMPath intends to make take its Intergen Project outside of Boston; currently piloting it in Jackson, Mississippi, and the Seattle area. Still a young program, it hopes to further improve its services as well as take them even further afield with the help of partner organisations.
To conclude, EMPath helps people get out of poverty by addressing what makes it difficult to get out in the first place; the mindset. Offering their services for free, they’re able to help people in the most need not only to leave poverty, but to stay out of it for good.