The Center for Hunger-Free Communities

Solutions Based on Science and the Human Experience

Building Wealth and Health Network

The Building Wealth and Health Network is an opportunity for parents and caregivers of young children to increase their income and savings, improve health and wellbeing, shape their own futures, and to do so in a community of their peers.

We do this through three main components.


1   Financial SELF Empowerment Class

The Network provides a 16-week long Financial SELF Empowerment class on the Drexel University campus. Our unique curriculum is tailored towards individuals with zero to low earned income with the input of some of our past members. Financial Self-Empowerment classes are 1 day a week for 3 hours and are a blend of both financial literacy and peer support groups.

  • Financial Literacy – discussions on basic financial terms, resources and goals while developing techniques to apply it to various financial situation.
  • Peer support groups – discussions focused on Safety, Emotion, Loss & Future (SELF) from Sanctuary® trauma-informed approach to social services 

While in our Financial SELF Empowerment classes, Network members can earn L.O.T.U.S Coupons (Love. Opportunity. Trust. Understanding. Support). These Network-made coupons are given as incentives for certain member behaviors such as attending class on-time, completing homework and making deposits into their matched savings account.  The members can redeem their L.O.T.U.S Coupons to pay for various entrepreneurship classes, employment training programs, background clearances, membership to the Philadelphia Zoo and much more.



2   Matched Savings Account

In addition to attending program classes, Network members get an opportunity to open a savings account with American Heritage Federal Credit Union.  The Network will match monies deposited into the account $1 for $1 up to $20 a month.

  • The account is opened in the member’s name. 
  • Members with an unfavorable banking history are able to open an account.  
  • The Network will wire funds directly into member’s matched savings account.
  • Network members are able to take advantage of this match for a year. 

Members are encouraged to use monies saved towards their financial and personal goals.  The Network does not limit or restrict how members use the money they save. 



3   Surveys

The Network is a year-long research study. While in the study, we ask Network members to participate in evaluation surveys every 3 months. Members take their surveys on our laptops either at the County Assistance Office (CAO) or at our offices at Drexel University. Members receive $25 cash for each survey they complete. The survey asks questions related to:

  • Employment and employment hope
  • Food, housing and energy insecurity
  • Maternal and child health
  • Self-efficacy
  • …and more.


Learn about The Network from it's founder, Dr. Mariana Chilton.


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