Corey was struggling after a very tough year. She was raising two young kids on her own after her husband was sent to jail for a life sentence for a horrendous crime. She had been working part-time at a gym for six years without a raise or discussion of full-time employment, and now as the sole bread winner she had no hope for supporting her family on such a meager salary.


Corey turned to Supports to Encourage Low-income Families (SELF), the Butler County Community Action Agency, and enrolled in their Getting Ahead (GA) classes. “Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’ By World” is a curriculum based on the work of poverty researcher Dr. Ruby Payne that assists individuals living in poverty to evaluate their lives and to develop the life skills necessary to survive and flourish. During the 18-week program, GA participants examine their own pasts, learn to understand and use the “hidden rules” of social class and learn methods to build self-sufficiency through development of financial, social, and emotional resources. Classes include financial literacy training, transportation incentives, dinner, childcare and other emergency supports. The class challenges participants to dream again and make a plan for a more self-sufficient future.

Corey worked with SELF’s Getting Ahead facilitator to make a solid plan for self-sufficiency, and her first goal was to find a different career.  Corey had some post-secondary education but not enough to earn her degree.  She was interested in web-design, a side hobby that she dabbled in after setting up a webpage for the gym.  With help from SELF, Corey applied for a program that paid her tuition at an IT school and applied for childcare vouchers so she could attend classes. Before she even completed the certificate, Corey was offered a position at her dream job as a web designer with a starting salary of $55,000 plus benefits.  She returned to a Getting Ahead graduation and shared her story, encouraging and inspiring the class to keep on networking, checking in for support and working through their plans for prosperity.

“I’ve always had the inspiration to do better, but life is hard,” Corey said. “It was hard to know who to reach out to or where to go for help. I am so thankful for SELF and the Getting Ahead Program that taught me how to follow my dreams.”  

For more information about Community Action programs in your area, visit www.oacaa.org. Note, not all Community Action Agencies offer these programs.

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