CINCINNATI — Finding the right career path can be a challenge when people don’t have the resources or tools to succeed. That’s why Cincinnati’s Santa Maria Community Services is equipping people in low-income areas with everything they need to achieve their goals. 

What You Need To Know

  • Santa Maria Community Services offers an Adult Workforce Development Program for adults looking to get back on track

  • Financial literacy coaching is just one of many services they offer

  • The program recently received a $30,000 grant from the L&L Nippert Charitable Foundation

  • The grant will help fund career education, coaching and other services

Every month, Genine Gray goes over her monthly budget sheet with financial literacy coordinator Destiny Simone. Gray has been a part of the Adult Workforce Development’s Financial Coaching Program for nine years.

It was shortly after having her first child. 

“My first apartment was horrible and I came to Santa Maria,” said Gray. “I was like, ‘I need to move. I don’t want to live in an income-base anymore. Can you guys please help me?’”

Improving her credit score and earning an Associate's Degree were just some of the things she’s accomplished since then, and she’s hoping to reach her goal of becoming a homebuyer.

That’s because she said the cost of rent is too high, and the income she brings in as a social worker isn’t enough to afford the rising cost.

According to the America’s Rental Housing 2022 Report, the demand for rental housing is not only reduced vacancy rates to historic lows, but also drove up rent. It's primarily impacting low-income families and people of color, so learning how to budget her money is something Gray said she has to do to reach her goal. 

“Sometimes, I have to realize you cannot always go out and do what you want to do just because you have it, just because it’s there,” she said. “You have other goals you have to apply for.”

The Adult Workforce Development Program is made possible through various funding. Recently, it received a $30,000 grant from the L&L Nippert Charitable Foundation.

It will help with career education, coaching, and other services, but Simone said more funding is needed to help provide help to even more adults in need. 

“They don’t necessarily know how to go about reaching those goals they have for themselves,” said Simone. “So when they come to Santa Maria, we equip them with the tools that they need so that they can apply those skills and become better versions of themselves.”

With the right credit score and money saved up for the down payment, Gray is one step closer to achieving her goal of owning her first home. She said it’s no easy task saving up for it, but is well worth it for herself and her kids.

“Being a mother always inspires me to go and do more,” she said. “They deserve the best, so I give them the best.”