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Working to break the cycle

Staff • Dec 31, 2018 at 2:00 PM

KINGSPORT — While city officials and a number of nonprofit groups grapple with how to address the homeless problem, there are other groups working to fix it before it starts. They’re trying to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.

These agencies are working with Kingsport’s youth to teach them about the importance of work, managing their finances and planning for their futures.


“We are trying our best to break the cycle,” said Johnnie Mae Swagerty, director.

New Vision does this through teaching young people about saving money, prioritizing wants versus needs and preparing for the future.

Banking professionals meet with older New Vision members to explain finances and how to manage money, Swagerty said. As for the younger children, they start learning about the importance of being financially prepared by saving quarters in coin folders.

Older girls attend programs sponsored by professional women in the area where they learn about saving and budgeting.

“All of this is very important, because some of our kids aren’t learning this at home. If they don’t get it there, they will learn it from New Vision Youth,” Swagerty said.


Through Girls Inc.’s Economic Literacy program, girls learn to manage money, invest and develop an appreciation for fiscal knowledge.

They learn these skills through four age-appropriate components. For example, in “She’s on the Money,” girls ages 6 to 8 use games, role playing, art projects and field trips to build skills for identifying and counting money and to increase their understanding of basic financial concepts.

For girls 9 to 11, the “Dollars, Sense, and Me” component covers entrepreneurship, career planning, budgeting, writing checks, taxes and government services, and labor and management.

The “Equal Earners, Savvy Spenders” component for girls 12 to 14 covers economic and financial topics including banking skills, loan options, credit cards, investment risk vs. return, consumer tips, and fitting a career into a full, well-rounded life.

In the “Futures and Options” component, girls 15 to 18 learn about career strategies, taxes and other paycheck deductions, planning and budgeting, banking, using credit, renting vs. buying, avoiding predatory lenders and other financial traps.

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