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Each September, The Allstate Foundation’s Moving Ahead Curriculum is taught to hundreds of nonprofit domestic violence advocates.  Advocates use the curriculum with domestic violence survivors to help them gain financial independence. The Moving Ahead Curriculum is a five-module curriculum designed to help domestic violence survivors navigate their finances and help them move from short term safety to long-term financial security. Topics covered in the curriculum include budgeting, emotional spending, buying a home, credit and more.

This year, in partnership with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the Moving Ahead Curriculum Advocate Training was held virtually because of the pandemic. More than 150 people participated in the September virtual training, including a few Allstate agency owners.

We spoke with two advocates and one agency owner about their involvement and how the curriculum has provided them with the tools to help domestic violence survivors.

Connecting with Survivors through Personal Experience

Brittany Hammond escaped domestic violence six years ago. Now, she works for the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, serving onsite at Bethany House Abuse Shelter, helping other survivors build a path to resiliency.

Hammond recently started this role after earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a program that focused on domestic violence. She spends her days meeting with residents, out-of-house clients, doing paperwork, finding resources and planning for financial literacy classes.

Q: Did you learn anything during The Allstate Foundation Moving Ahead Curriculum training that has changed your approach to working with survivors on financial empowerment? If so, what are some examples?

Hammond: During one of the training sessions, someone mentioned making the content real and relatable by sharing that they use these strategies in their own life.

That has been something that helped me to connect with my clients, to show them, “Hey, this messy paper with scribbles and arrows all over it is how my budget starts. It’s a lot of estimating and moving it around until you make it work.”

I also liked how there was an emphasis put on thinking outside the box on managing spending leaks,

not just telling [survivors] to eliminate them, as it’s not only unrealistic but can make a client feel like you are shaming them.

Q: What are your thoughts about The Allstate Foundation Moving Ahead Curriculum? Is it a tool you’ll continue to use with survivors?

Hammond: I use this curriculum with all my clients! It’s an especially nice resource if they have a question and I am not around to answer it.

Understanding the Path to Financial Independence

Ruth Williams is an Allstate agency owner in Houston. She has volunteered with Fresh Spirit Wellness, a local domestic violence nonprofit in her area, for 5 years.

Williams had previously taught The Allstate Foundation Moving Ahead Curriculum on financial independence, but this year’s training gave her a different perspective on the information and the survivors she teaches.

Q: Why did you decide to participate in The Allstate Foundation Moving Ahead Curriculum Advocate Training this year? Is this your first time attending?

Williams: I always felt like I had gaps in my presentations because I didn’t have a full grasp of what the clients were experiencing in their lives. I was just the person who came in and talked to them about the budgeting.

The Moving Ahead training filled the gaps. I now have a big-picture view of the entire process and what the clients face as they pursue financial freedom.

Q: What are a few of the top takeaways or learnings you gained from the training? 

The interaction with the other class attendees allows me to now truly connect with the clients on the challenges that they face: housing, becoming bankable, education and childcare.  I loved the group exercises that I can now use with the clients to help bring the information to life.

Pivoting to Virtual Assistance for Deaf Survivors

Bonnie Kaplan works with deaf, deaf-blind and hard-of-hearing crime victims at the Tri County Community Action Agency in Rhode Island. Kaplan says most of her clients are also domestic violence survivors.

Kaplan has been doing this kind of work for 30 years, but she says the pandemic has changed how she communicates with clients.

Q: How has the pandemic affected your program?

Kaplan: Frankly, it’s had a huge impact. In a perfect world, the deaf community prefers to meet in person, but the pandemic has prevented it.

It’s a challenge to communicate with each survivor using a variety of technology methods such as Zoom meetings, FaceTime, texts or emails. Some survivors do not have access to technology … or have poor internet connection, which constantly interferes with the meeting. We have managed to work through the challenges.

Q: Why did you decide to participate in the Allstate Foundation Moving Ahead Curriculum Advocate Training this year?

Kaplan: We felt it was a great opportunity to learn and participate in the training. We want to improve our skills and knowledge to share with survivors to enable them to have a sense of financial independency.

Learn more about The Allstate Foundation’s mission to end domestic violence and access educational resources for domestic violence survivors and advocates: https://allstatefoundation.org/what-we-do/end-domestic-violence/resources/

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