Before she joined, Chicago-based member Audtrie thought the UpTogether program was too good to be true. “Initially, I didn’t want to join. I thought, ‘I don’t believe this!’,” she exclaims. Audtrie learned about UpTogether during a presentation at her job. She reluctantly joined a group with a few co-workers. “My current executive director made me a believer. She said, ‘no, this is real.’ I trusted that she knew what was going on,” she says.
During the pandemic, the youth literacy worker had to shift to teaching children online. She was a little behind on some bills, so she used UpTogether funds to catch up. “I needed the money explicitly for my cable (internet). My granddaughter is staying with me. She’s going to college in her freshman year, and I’m working from home. So that’s one thing I can not have turned off.”
Audtrie also mapped out a plan to reduce other bills. “My light and cable bills are currently up to date. My gas bill is still high from the winter, but I am on a payment plan and everything is up to date. The money came right on time.”
Audtrie says she’s thankful for the financial incentive she receives from UpTogether, but she says what she learned from members in her cohort was invaluable. “One of our co-workers brought in speakers to teach us about our finances and we have monthly meetings to discuss our issues and concerns. We meet virtually and we are still active!”