Promoting Economic Self-Sufficiency for Women

Reflections from the March 2016 Social Issue Talk Series
  • By Hannah Blaisdell
  • Published on April 04, 2016
Anita Saville and Deb Goldberg
MA State Treasurer Deb Goldberg and Budget Buddies Founder Anita Saville at the March 17 Social Issue Talk

Guest blogger Hannah Blaisdell, a foundation assistant at GMA Foundations, offers her perspective on the March 17 "Promoting Economic Self-Sufficiency for Women" Social Issue Talk.

On March 17, the Boston Foundation graciously hosted an event to showcase 2016 Social Innovator Budget Buddies, a Lowell-based organization that engages low-income women in financial literacy programming and matches them with personal financial coaches. Guest speaker Deborah Goldberg, state treasurer of Massachusetts, lauded Budget Buddies’ important work and underscored the necessity of promoting wage equality and women’s economic empowerment. She noted that when women’s work is consistently undervalued and underpaid, it feeds into a debilitating cycle of women asking for less, negotiating less, expecting and accepting less. Both she and Budget Buddies see financial education as one pathway toward economic parity for women.

Throughout her speech, Treasurer Goldberg spoke passionately about the power of collaboration. What our society, our government, and our business community must learn, she asserted, is that when women are economically empowered, everyone benefits.

When women are economically empowered, everyone benefits.

The theme of collaborative power, and especially the collaborative power of women, could not have been more appropriate. Budget Buddies, led by co-founders Anita Saville and Kathy Brough, both promotes and embodies the power of women working together to help other women. Ms. Saville described the financial coaches—women who work one-on-one with the organization’s clients, sometimes for years—as the heart of the program. Since 2010 Budget Buddies has served more than 300 women in Greater Lowell, and it is ready and eager to expand its vision of economic empowerment to other communities.

Coincidentally—or not!—the SIF track sponsor that ultimately selected Budget Buddies as a 2016 Innovator was also a collaborative of women. The Anna B. Stearns Charitable Foundation, a well-established local entity focused on women and girls in Greater Boston, had the privilege of identifying and partnering with four other funders committed to women’s and girls’ empowerment:  the Miriam Fund, the Story Exchange, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, and Womenade Boston.

Despite the size of our group, the path to consensus was surprisingly smooth. Each of the extraordinary women who composed this collaborative came to the table with a unique perspective, a clear commitment to the collective goal, and a willingness to compromise for the benefit of the group.

Somewhat unintentionally, collaboration, along with women’s empowerment, became the track’s secondary theme; we were delighted to hear both messages echoed in Treasurer Goldberg’s remarks. We are excited to see where collaboration with SIF resources will bring Budget Buddies—and the women of the Commonwealth.

About the Author

Hannah Blaisdell is a foundation assistant at GMA Foundations, a philanthropic services agency that works with foundations and individual donors to establish and achieve their philanthropic goals, where she staffs the Anna B. Stearns Charitable Foundation and others.