The Lenoir-Greene County Partnership for Children, the Little Bank, and Southeast Elementary School in Kinston operate a unique, local asset building program for low-income children in Lenoir County. The Community-Campus Partnership is working with local leaders and faculty/staff in the UNC School of Public Health to expand the scope and impact of asset building in Lenoir County.
The Little-by-Little Program is a combination mentorship and financial incentive program. Each student in the program (currently 3rd and 4th graders) has a mentor from the community that nurtures their education and encourages them to dream big. Every nine weeks students are given specific goals in comprehension, behavioral, and accelerated reading. If the students meet their goals in all three categories, $50 is deposited into an account for the student’s college tuition. Students are awarded a $50 end of year bonus if all four, nine week goals are met throughout the year. Performance-based rewards accrue over time and if students continue to meet their goals, they could save up to $3000 to use for college tuition or books upon graduation.
Coincidentally, Marci Campbell and Salli Benedict from the UNC School of Public Health were recently awarded a $1 million grant from federal Recovery Act funds to help women in rural eastern North Carolina overcome poverty and improve their health. The HOPE Accounts project will recruit low-income and overweight women to join HOPE Account circles. The circles of 8-12 women will be support groups designed to teach women how to open and maintain savings accounts to achieve economic goals. Each participant in the project will open an Individual Development Account (IDA) and will have the opportunity to receive matching funds to apply toward furthering her education, buying a home or creating a business.
The Community-Campus Partnership is working with local leaders involved in the Little-by-Little program and the campus team involved in HOPE Accounts for Women to bring the programs together in order to have a significant positive impact on low-income families in Lenoir County by providing asset-building incentives to children and to their mothers and other women in their families.
Will Lambe authored the NC Rural Center report, Small Towns, Big Ideas, and he served as Director of the Community and Economic Development Program at the School of Government from 2009 to 2014.