Palo Alto

Financial Program Helps Single Moms in Silicon Valley Save Money; Matches Funds

Single moms in Silicon Valley have a best friend named WANDA.

The Women’s Achievement Network and Development Alliance, or WANDA, is a financial literacy and empowerment organization for single moms in Silicon Valley.

The three-year program was founded in 2007 by a group of single mothers and women who were raised by single moms.

WANDA teaches a class cohort of up to 35 moms ways to budget, save money and become more financially fit.

“The median income for living here is about $105,000,” said Danika McKenna, WANDA executive director.

“We target women around 60 percent of the area median income. So that would probably be around $56,000 dollars for a household of two,” McKenna said.

McKenna says WANDA moms on average make $28,000 a year. After being in the program for one year, the organization says on average women increase their incomes by $14,000, and their credit scores by up to 100 points.

Plus there is significant financial incentive.

“Women can save up to $2,000 over the course of two years and then we’ll match that at a two to one,” McKenna said. “So they walk away from the program with up to $6,000 invested in an asset -- home ownership, education for themselves or their kids, or retirement savings.”

Palo Alto-mom Valerie Turner enrolled in the program after her 24-year marriage ended. She was financially responsible for her and her four children.

“I really felt illiterate,” Turner said. “I really felt like I was financially illiterate in a lot of areas.”

WANDA taught her how to manage her money wisely, and how to discern items she needs versus items she wants.

Now she’s saved money for her children’s education, and her own. She also received a scholarship which helps pay for classes she’s taking now.

“When I look back and think about the person I was when I first came to the program and who I am right now, I am the same person but I feel like I’m a much better version of myself,” Turner said.

Visit the WANDA website to learn about the application process and more about the program.

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