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Opportunity Passport matched-savings program helps former foster care youth gain financial freedom

By Falana Shannon

My name is Falana and I wanted to share with you on my recent experience on why it’s never too late to start working on your goals.  Now I will say this first, never rush your goals based on other’s accomplishments, but do it at your own pace so you don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed about everything. I would like to share a goal of mine that has been heavy/tricky.

For at least 10 years, there has been a battle between me and my credit, and we haven’t always been on the best of terms.  Over the years and honestly, turning 30 years old, I just felt like it was time to take care of business and make clearing my debt my focus and my priority. Now granted I knew it would take A LOT, and I mean A LOT of work, but I was truly determined to get it done even through all the hardships.

Ready for Life and Suncoast Voices for Children started a program called Opportunity Passport which teaches young adults like me different financial skills such as savings, checking, credit building and more.  I was really excited to join the class because I was eager to learn everything, especially since I knew it could better my future. I went into the class with a plan and graduated from Opportunity Passport learning a lot more than I imagined. It was one of the best learning experiences of my life.

Upon completing the program, participants receive funds to match the amount they had saved during the program, which could be used for emergencies such as utilities, rental, vehicles, medical expenses, credit repair, and more, to help young people become successful adults. After graduating the class, I gave myself an assignment: to save up half of what I needed to save and then the remaining balance would be matched from the program match.  I created a small vision board on ways to inspire me to fix my credit I turned my vision into a reality.

As of April 2021, I am debt free!!! Now if you know me, then you would understand this has been a long journey, but I stuck with my plan, and most importantly I have a wonderful support team who was with me along the way. I want to personally thank all the volunteers who helped with the program and Ready for Life and Suncoast Voices for helping me accomplish this goal. Thank you for believing in me, especially when I didn’t believe in myself.

My next goal is to become a homeowner and inspire others to complete one of their goals so they can inspire others as well. I am so thankful for the opportunity that was given to me and I thank you all for helping me to start a better future. 😊

2023 Update: Our amazing RFL Youth Specialist Falana reached her goal of becoming a homeowner! Read her story of owning her own home here!

Join us in Changing Lives Beyond Foster Care!

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