Family Success Centers: Putting Down Roots in Greensboro

For the upcoming ReCONNECT to Economic Opportunity forum on Oct. 15 in Charlotte, the Institute for Emerging Issues has chosen five community initiatives from throughout North Carolina that will share with our forum audience how they’re working on economic development in their area. Here, we profile the United Way of Greater Greensboro’s Family Success Center model.

Lisa moved to Greensboro from New York. She was leaving an abusive relationship and had no support network in North Carolina. When she went to the United Way of Greater Greensboro’s Family Success Center for help, she realized she had found not just a resource, but a lifeline. 

“When you have support, it makes you feel rooted,” said Lisa. “It makes you feel grounded, so that you can do better, so that you can have the hopes to say, ‘I want better, I want to be a homeowner… I want to be a business owner.’”

The Family Success Center model in Greensboro, N.C., uses a network of 30 community partnerships to help families move from poverty to self-sufficiency. By bundling, sequencing, and tailoring services, the centers help families become financially stable and successful on their own terms.

The Family Success Center model in Greensboro, N.C., uses a network of community partnerships to help families move from poverty to self-sufficiency.

When a family comes to one of the success centers, they are paired with a coach who helps them identify their goals. The centers focus on four aspects of improvement: education, employment, financial literacy, and health and wellness.

“Our goal is to help you be able to reach your goals,” said Crystal Broadnax, the program manager for FSC at the Salvation Army of Greensboro. “We want to help you define success as you see it and help meet those needs that you have.”

Each center has a lead agency that builds partnerships with organizations that already provide human and social services.

“An important concept behind the model of a family success center is that it’s collaborative, because we don’t believe in reinventing the wheel or training people for something that someone else already does well. We believe in partnering,” said Sarah Glover, the manager of Family Success Centers at United Way of Greater Greensboro.

The centers aim to make it easy to get their services. First, almost all of their services are provided free of charge. Second, many services are accessible in one location to remove the transportation barrier. And third, childcare is provided on-site for those who need it.

“We serve whole families. You can’t solve poverty by only helping the adults or only helping the children, so we do both,” said Sarah Glover, the manager of Family Success Centers at United Way of Greater Greensboro.

By also serving children, FSC demonstrates a two-generation approach to fighting poverty.

“We serve whole families. You can’t solve poverty by only helping the adults or only helping the children, so we do both,” said Glover.

The pilot FSC model started in 2015 and served 104 families in its first year. The second FSC opened in January 2019 and has served 150 individuals so far, said Broadnax.

Both Broadnax and Glover hope to learn new and innovative ways to serve even more families as they participate in the Institute for Emerging Issue’s ReCONNECT to Economic Opportunity community cohort. 

Learn more about the Family Success Center model here

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