Step Up Savannah on a Mission to Help Individuals on the Path to Financial Freedom

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

The cycle of poverty often repeats over generations, leaving families feeling trapped under the weight of financial burdens. Step Up Savannah recognizes the impacts that generational wealth gaps can have on the economic mobility of local individuals and families and is on a mission to help members of our community establish financial know-how and independence.

Step Up Savannah focuses on a few key areas to create actual change and position lower-income individuals for financial success: direct service programs, advocacy and education, and community resource collaboration.

Jalisa Johnson is just one example of someone whom the work of Step Up Savannah has positively impacted. The organization helped her improve her credit score, set up a bank account and earn a free forklift certification; and is now working at a job with a livable wage and benefits, and is working to pay off her debts.

“This program is amazing — it is certainly life-changing, but it needs more recognition,” said Johnson. “We could all benefit from this type of education. While it is offered at no cost, you can’t afford not to get it. In addition to teaching me lifelong financial lessons, Step Up Savannah helped me determine my next goals, including owning my own business and educating my children about financial literacy.”

Even in the face of the pandemic, Step Up Savannah has managed to continue serving the community with great success. In 2020, 946 individuals received financial literacy lessons, 5,744 people were served through the Public Benefits Program, and 188 participants received workforce development, with 40% landing job placements averaging $15 an hour (double Georgia’s $7.25 minimum wage per hour).

The financial literacy workshops are made possible by corporate partnerships like Bank of America, which offers community support through grants and volunteerism, including ongoing presentations of their Better Money Habits program through the Chatham Apprentice Program (CAP).

“Step Up Savannah wants to express our utmost gratitude and appreciation for all of our partners who make our service to the community possible,” said Alicia M. Johnson, executive director of Step of Savannah. “It is because of our partners that we can assist individuals on their path to economic mobility and move the needle in the right direction for the community, one person at a time.”

Since 2009, Step Up has helped thousands of unemployed and under-employed Chatham County residents on the path to financial stability. By providing opportunities for economic mobility among low-wealth families and individuals, the nonprofit seeks to end the cycle of persistent poverty for residents like Jalisa.

“Many people in our community don’t know how to change, and without change, the cycle will continue,” said another Step Up Savannah attendee, Jessica Martin. “I want to educate my daughter to be financially stable, and I want to change my community and the generation after me.”

Step Up is committed to seeking out sustainable, long-lasting solutions during National Financial Capability Month and throughout the year. Programming occurs on rotating schedules throughout the year. To volunteer, sign up for programs or to donate, visit www.stepupsavannah.org.