For the past decade, United Way Bay Area through its partner organization Sparkpoint Contra Costa has been helping low-income families and students become more financially stable, providing credit coaching, legal services and other workshops that train in personal economic management.
Launched in Bay Point and Richmond in 2011, SparkPoint expanded in 2014 to the campus of Contra Costa College, and in the past two years the group has run another regional office at Diablo Valley College, where it continues to broaden its impacts on the community.
In a video from 2019, one of SparkPoint’s clients, who went by the name of Jesse, said he was homeless and struggling to find stable employment until the organization helped him turn things around.
“I was living in a homeless shelter with my family and we were going through very tough times,” said Jesse, in a clip posted on United Way Bay Area’s website. “At the shelter, a SparkPoint flyer caught my eye and I noticed that they provided financial coaching. The first day I went, I met my financial coach and she taught me a lot on how to fix my credit.”
According to Gerardo Mendoza, a Sparkpoint financial coach who works with students at DVC, the group differs from other financial services through its comprehensive approach, “by bringing together all the best experts to provide services in a way that no other organization could do on its own.”
Mendoza said students and their families can schedule an appointment with him for a one-on-one orientation or to get more information about Sparkpoint Contra Costa DVC (SPCC-DVC) services.
A SPCC-DVC financial coach can also help individuals enroll in health coverage programs such as Contra Costa CARES and Covered California, by assisting them in locating benefits based on eligibility and requirements. SPCC-DVC coaches also work with consumer law attorneys to assist students with various consumer legal needs, ranging from identity theft and credit report inaccuracies to concerns about debt collection.
Due to COVID-19, SparkPoint Contra Costa at DVC has gone remote until further notice. Yet even online, the free and easy-to-use program has continued to help individuals increase their savings, raise their credit scores, get out of debt, and boost their incomes.
“I would definitely recommend people to check it out,” said Jesse in the video. “It’s really helpful and I can look back and see what I have now, and it’s all thanks to SparkPoint.”