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Avivo is advancing a research-based coaching model to help families achieve economic mobility

Avivo is advancing a research-based coaching model to help families achieve economic mobility. Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) is known worldwide for its direct services, advocacy and research that help transform people’s lives by providing pathways out of poverty. Avivo is starting to implement this coaching approach across its services to help Avivo participants achieve economic mobility.

Built on a decade of research and development, EMPath employs a brain-science-based approach to create solutions to aid low-income people in achieving economic security and self-sufficiency. With an emphasis on long-term goals, EMPath guides individuals in the areas of family life, health, career, finances and education. Three years ago, Avivo introduced EMPath’s Mobility Mentoring® coaching model while working with students in Avivo’s training programs. It is currently being advanced across Avivo’s Family and Employment Services which serves families intent on moving off public assistance and will soon be introduced in Avivo’s family outpatient treatment program.

Though the internal expansion efforts are relatively recent, Avivo’s Family and Employment Services team which serves Ramsey County families was introduced to the method 10 years ago. Avivo staff members Ron Nelson and Mina Ferden shared why they believe the EMPath approach helps create a sustainable path to the complex task of moving out of poverty.

Nelson is a career counselor serving families in the St. Cloud area. According to Nelson, some of the largest barriers for families have been related to mental health, transportation, juggling multiple jobs and past criminal records.

“People’s personal life experiences are extremely challenging,” shared Nelson. “Many cannot comprehend the barriers that they face.”

“People’s personal life experiences are extremely challenging,” shared Nelson. “Many cannot comprehend the barriers that they face.”

Finding housing that is both affordable and safe is also an elusive goal for many. In addition, finding childcare that is both affordable and high-quality has been difficult.

“$15 an hour is hard, if not impossible, to support a family of three or four,” said Nelson. “Since the pandemic, we have seen that wages have gone up a bit, but it’s still not enough to support a family.”

In addition to being met with low wages, families who are finally able to make the transition to self-sufficiency start receiving less in program benefits. Many return to public assistance as they are not able to sustain a livelihood on their new income.

Ferden shared that Mobility Mentoring® leverages a tool called the Bridge to Self-Sufficiency®. This “bridge” uses five pillars to help participants better identify, organize and outline their goals. These pillars are family stability, physical and mental well-being, financial management, education and training, and employment and career management. Participants identify specific, achievable goals along each pillar. With the support of their mobility mentor, they move closer to achieving economic independence and self-sufficiency.

Mobility Mentoring® provides a pathway to help individuals set and achieve long-term goals while receiving extended, personalized support. Ferden said that the goal is for 70% of people served to remain off public assistance three years later.

While Avivo is in the early stages of expansion across programs, Nelson and Ferden are confident that the EMPath approach will yield transformative results in the lives of Avivo families.

“This way of partnering with families serves them well,” said Nelson. “Once you work on building a bridge over the barriers, it opens up different doors.”

“This way of partnering with families serves them well,” said Nelson. “Once you work on building a bridge over the barriers, it opens up different doors.”

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