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WANDA, Women's Achievement Network and Development Alliance, a fiscally sponsored project of Women's Foundation of California

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: WANDA breaks the cycle of intergenerational poverty one single mother at a time. WANDA believes wholeheartedly in the capabilities of low-income, employed single mothers and envisions a world where they all become financially self-sufficient and achieve the American Dream. WANDA provides education, and a matched savings program over three years. After that time, the participants graduate with one of three life changing assets: college education funds, retirement savings or the purchase of a first-time home. WANDA strongly believes in the asset-building approach because assets are not easily consumed, but rather grow in value and build wealth, allowing all WANDA participants to take control over their finances and build a bright future.

Results: In the last five years: WANDA savers have accumulated over $400,000 in savings! WANDA participants have a 95% retention and graduation rate. WANDA graduates have invested in the following: 20 investments in college education, 8 retirement savings, 5 homes and 4 new businesses Over 70% of Moms report greater understanding of credit and budgeting, setting financial goals, and making better decisions overall Over 70% have taken steps to improve their careers 65% of their children are saving Moms are benefiting from the community: 94% report learning from other Moms and 96% report learning from the donors

Programs: WANDA's program involves education, networking, community building and a matched savings over three years. Single mothers apply to the program and commit to regular attendance at a financial management training, and monthly seminars on financial and professional development in the first year. In the second and third year, participants are invited to an advanced curriculum that builds on skills developed in the first year. Participants commit to regular savings over three years. Those savings are matched 2:1. At the end of three years, the Moms invest all funds in college education for themselves or their children, retirement savings, or a first-time home.

Community Stories

15 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Perla N.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I attended a WANDA event and met some of the single mothers in the program. I was really impressed by the determination of these women and what they said about how the program helped them to save money towards building assets and make important personal connections. WANDA also has very smart and passionate group of volunteers who are dedicated to helping the program participants succeed.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I decided to become involve with WANDA as a volunteer because I highly value the work they do for the community. Particularly, I appreciate the population they serve, single low-income mothers. I was raised by my mother and father who both were raised by strong single-mothers. My grandmothers struggled to raise their children in poverty. Nonetheless, these women never gave up. They modeled for others great strength, self-determination, warmth, compassion, resourcefulness, to name a few. I believe that WANDA is such a great resource for single-mothers who are struggling to be financially self-sufficient and seeking to break the cycle of poverty. I am eager to let many others in the SF Bay Area know of this wonderful organization and hope that all single-mothers in the area take advantage of this great resource.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined WANDA as a donor and am involved with planning events and activities to attract and retain additional donors and events that strengthen bonds between single moms and donor/supporters.
I am a supporter of WANDA because I believe that women and single moms are often faced with limited opportunity. I like being part of an organization that has a very visible and immediate impact on the lives of single mothers in our community through education and a savings match. it makes me feel great to be able to provide some support to single moms and give them a hand up!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WANDA is so much more than a financial savings program - it's a group of dedicated participants and donors who have built a true community that goes way beyond the financial benefits. It equips single mothers with the tools and skills they need to break the cycle of poverty, and provides a network of emotional support that we all need but don't always have access to. Together, these women are making huge strides that far exceeds what they thought was possible alone. I am proud to be a WANDA volunteer and to be a part of an organization that is truly making a positive impact in the lives of women in my local community.

1 Dianne G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer at WANDA as well as an employer of two women who participate in the WANDA program for the past few years. I have seen these women grow in so many ways. Through the community that they found at WANDA and the training they receive at the monthly seminars, these women are finding their voice and making positive changes in their lives. They come into the program with full time jobs, but WANDA takes them to the next step. One of the moms finally had the courage to move out of a bad living situation and find her own place, and another managed to secure a full scholarship at a private middle school for her daughter. WANDA has tapped into something that is truly making a difference in the lives of single moms.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I became involved in WANDA after looking for a non-profit that helps those most in need at a local level; single mothers. WANDA's programs assist single working mothers in creating financial stability and help them to break the cycle of poverty and create a much stronger future for themselves and for their children. I am thrilled to be part of an organization that impacts people directly in my community, and am honored to know many of the remarkable women that WANDA is mentoring. It is incredible to see these women take the tools that WANDA offers them and become empowered and start realizing their goals for themselves and their children.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Perla Mendoza, 37 yrs old with a son whom just turned 18 yrs.old and he will be a graduate of class 2013 of San Mateo High School in May 2013. As a single-mom struggling paycheck to paycheck, deciding which bills to pay as priority and not to mention the daily life of a Mom with food on the table and clean laundry. I felt alone, discouraged and confused. WANDA gave me an opportunity to feel self-worth and hope for myself and my son. When I started the orientation classes I came to realize that I am not the only Mom to feel outside of today's society. I choose to put the IRA account towards funding for my son's college education. That decision alone gave back that hope and small goals to achieve in order to confirm that I do belong in this society . WANDA represented to me STRENGTH and GRATITUDE. I looked forward to learning a new tool to add to my toolbox that was used when I needed to step up and make a confident life decision. Tools that I will always be able to use and depend on when the time comes. I learned how to make a prioritys list, save money, budget with food and connect with other struggling mothers who are going through the same daily issues of a single-mom. For that I will always be forever grateful for having WANDA apart of my life

1 Sheila J. H.

Donor

Rating: 5

I had been looking for a non-profit organization that focused on issues that had personal meaning to me and that used donor $ wisely. When I saw a brochure about WANDA, I resonated deeply with poverty relief as a cause. Then when I met the Executive Director and some of the Board Members at the 3rd Door (a fantastic gym/restaurant on Lytton & High St in Palo Alto), I was really impressed by their intense commitment to the women that are in their asset building and financial skill-building program. I also liked the fact that WANDA was helping women around the SF Bay Area. Really though, I was most convinced about WANDA as an organization worthy of donation, when I began talking with a couple of the women that are in the WANDA program. Both talked about what they had learned about saving, wise spending, and how WANDA was helping them toward their long-term goals with a matched savings plan. After those conversations, I knew that this was a non-profit that was successfully contributing to poverty relief and changing lives in the SF Bay Area.

2 Srijana A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am amazed at the results WANDA has produced in such a short period of time. I have volunteered and interacted with WANDA moms and did a career advice session few years ago. I was blown away by their stories but most importantly by the single mothers who were absolutely determined to change their future for the sake of their children. WANDA gives them the tool to succeed no matter what their financial goals might be. I know several moms who are now able to save for their children's college education and also buy homes. One important aspect that WANDA provides, which I think is equally important, is the access to a network of women who are their support system. It creates a much needed community for single mothers.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Yesenia Ramirez, I am 26 years old single mother to a 6 year old boy. I joined Wanda two years ago, and I love it and would recommend it to any other single mother. I never imagined how useful saving money could be for me and my son’s future. Because of these women and the seminars I’ve learned a lot. Thank you!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am just entering my second year as a WANDA mother. WANDA has shown me that all things are possible, and it has reassured me that I am not alone as a single parent. WANDA has helped create a support group within the program itself that is very supportive regarding day to day things we as single mothers face, and taught us how to set long term goals and prepare for our future. When I first joined WANDA I figured I would save of course for my daughter to attend college, but after completing some of the seminars I realized that the only way I could stop the chain of being in a low income bracket was to fund schooling for myself. As of now, I am saving for myself to attend school. WANDA is a great program for all low income single mothers in need of a push start in life to get up and better ourselves.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I participated in Cohort 1 of the WANDA program when it was initially created in 2006, and I currently continue to attend the workshops, holiday programs and maintain friendships with the founders and other participants. WANDA has become my second "family" and I sincerely believe that I will have a life-long tie to this wonderful organization.

Before I joined the WANDA program, I was a struggling single parent striving to make life better for myself and my son. Throughout my participation in the WANDA program, I attended various workshops that were very informative and beneficial, and I learned many critical life skills such as realistic budgeting and saving techniques, strategies for planning and achieving my goals, financial planning knowledge, resume preparation and employment search skills. I was also given a very professional business suit that I’ve worn to many interviews and to work. By applying what I learned from these fabulous workshops, I have been able to save $4,000, lower my debt and increase my credit score, create a plan to set and complete my goals, obtain numerous job interviews and to secure great employment opportunities.

I have also been able to share, and demonstrate by example, my gained knowledge and skills with my family. My teenage son has learned how to budget, save and plan for the future. He is looking forward to graduating high school and attending college. He also looks forward to saving money for his first car.

WANDA also has provided a very supportive network for me as a single parent, and the close friendships that I have established with other WANDA participants have also led me to many other valuable resources and opportunities. My family and I also look forward to the yearly Holiday workshops which are very special and memorable.

I was very fortunate to have joined and participated in WANDA, and feel that the skills, knowledge, support, and the friendships which I’ve acquired haven given me the feeling of becoming an empowered woman with a vision of success, and these benefits will be everlasting and invaluable to my future.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Mariam, I am a 47 year old single mom with two daughters that I have raised by myself. I joined Wanda 3 years ago in 2010. Wanda single mothers over the last 3 years have inspired me and made me feel not so alone. To share a common bond of wanting to improve our own lives and the lives of our children has been an experience like no other. I have also learned many things from the "Wanda Leaders" from them on a personal level as well as their many inspirational and informative workshops. Things like resume writing, how to dress for success, how to start your own business, ways to build your credit, how to save for your retirement, how to purchase a first time home are just some of the many things I have learned being an active participant of "The Wanda Program" with Wanda leaders guidance and financial contributions I was at 47 years old able to make what I always thought was an unattainable dream come true. I was able in January 2013 to open a "Roth Ira" the very first thing I have done towards my retirement. I am here to say that because of the wonderful woman leaders at Wanda, my dream came true.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My dream is to continue to evolve as a leader in my community. I am a first-generation immigrant, the only person in my family to graduate from college, and a single mother of two amazing teenagers. When I joined WANDA in 2012, I was looking to increase financial stability for my family. Throughout my first year, WANDA's mentorship and guidance have positively impacted my life in more ways than I had expected. I have received financial and professional mentoring, doubled my income through a new job that I love, acquired basic financial security (i.e.: health insurance, life insurance, etc), and saved my targeted amount for the down payment of a house! Most importantly, WANDA leaders have motivated me to pursue my dreams, taught me strategies to be financially independent, and have inspired me to continue serving my community. I look forward to my second and third years in WANDA to further develop my financial and career planning skills.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Alixzandria and I am apart of cohort 3 in the WANDA program. I am a single mother with one daughter. Joining WANDA has given me the opportunity to build bonds with other single mothers who are striving for something better within themselves and for their children. These wonderful women have empowered me not only as a mother but as a woman. This program has taught me many things, one being the importance of creating and sticking to a budget and saving money. Before WANDA I spent my money irresponsibly not understanding the effects of not keeping a budget. Due to participating in this program I have been able to save money which assisted me in receiving my Master's Degree in Counseling from San Jose State University which i will receive this May as well as saving money to put in a college savings fund for my daughter. Receiving a college education has always been an important aspect in my life and passing this along to my daughter is also important to me. My daughter has been my motivation throughout my college experience, along with the support from my family, friends and my second family, the wonderful woman from WANDA. This program has helped me tremendously and will do the same for any woman who is a participant. Thank You.