Published 4/14/2019 in The Maryland Daily Record
It is no secret that I am a full believer in second chances. As someone who has always been drawn to people who have achieved greatly in part due to a chance at redemption, I am inspired to see people who harness the chance to do life better. Especially those who take this opportunity to the maximum of its possibility. When it comes to second chances, Baltimore is an ideal city to live when it comes to those in great need of these opportunities.
With this in mind, I am more aware than ever of the privilege that I was born into. Simply by being born to a Caucasian family in New England, my life started with very clear advantages that women born during the same era in neighborhoods throughout Baltimore were simply not afforded. When I consider the number of ways in which my destiny was already set in motion at birth, I feel a sense of responsibility to use this awareness as a gift that I’ve received to make pathways for others who didn’t win this birth race and place lottery.
The Pivot Program
This is what led me to a connection to Emily Thompson, the co-founder of The Pivot Program. Our meeting felt like an immediate sisterhood with someone so naturally matched with this same affinity for second chances. Emily, equally aware and grateful for her own privilege in life, along with her co-founder, Bridget Nistico, conceived the concept of Pivot when each was a part of the Hopkins Social Innovation Lab. With the recognition that Baltimore had no work release centers for women who are returning from incarceration, the two saw a way to provide practical and skills-based support to create greater sustainability for women and to reduce re-offence rates.
It was clear in our first meeting that the magnitude of possibility and work to be done far exceeded the capacity of two founders. The concept that Pivot launched was a curriculum-based program that would encompass a full schedule of five days per week for six weeks. The content spans a full range of subjects including job readiness, resume and interview preparation, emotional well-being with supportive skills-based learning to gain more tools for long-term, sustainable self-care and financial literacy tools for rebuilding a strong financial framework. With such a robust offering, I was ready to spring into action. My mind was racing with so many ideas of how to bring more resources to build upon the solid foundation of this new endeavor.
The initial pilot program with the first cohort of women during the summer of 2018 produced meaningful feedback that was applied to the preparation for the second cohort in the spring of 2019. In particular, the desire to deliver impactful financial literacy training and support to the Pivot women was identified as a high priority. Knowing that this population of women is often operating outside of the mainstream financial system was the seed of an idea that was put in motion.
In the backdrop of this meeting was my personal feeling of wanting more direct connection at a grassroots level with my volunteer efforts. Having dedicated lots of time to raising money for the children and families in need of services at Kennedy Krieger Institute over the past 6 years, I was feeling satisfied that my transition out of a leadership role opened up space for me to return to a more hands-on project.
The community of women colleagues that I have built were top of mind. I know how much we all seek to share our wealth of knowledge beyond the work we do in our daily lives. This was an ideal match at just the right time as I was not alone in my desire to have a more personal connection to people directly and personally.
Within short order, we created a team of women facilitators. Each has stepped right up to volunteer to teach one or more of the offerings in the six-week course curriculum. Some have experience teaching financial literacy, and others are simply willing to give this a try. Knowing that each of us has had far greater access to the learnings and real-life application than our Pivot class participants, we all gain the benefit of learning together and having a second chance at doing life better.
To learn more about the Pivot Program, visit https://www.pivotprogram.org/
—Dorie Fain, founder and CEO of &Wealth