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Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times 

OC United Way will host a virtual event on Friday, Nov. 6 from 9-10 a.m. to inform the Dana Point community about its partnership with RH Dana Elementary to enhance financial literacy.

According to a news release, about 50% of the students are housing-insecure and 90% are on a free or reduced-price lunch program.

On Sept. 1, Dana Point City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and Orange County United Way for the purpose of providing financial literacy coaching and education, case management and wrap-around services to parents of R.H. Dana Elementary school and residents of Dana Point. The goal is for families to be equipped to overcome barriers to stable housing.

The partnership has been part of an ongoing effort for Councilmember Paul Wyatt—who formerly headed the city’s Homeless Task Force—to find ways to remediate underlying causes of homelessness.

Wyatt collaborated with Susan Parks, CEO of Orange County United Way, in search of solutions. The nonprofit organization had already established Sparkpoint, a money-smart workshop series that has been held in North Orange County cities including Santa Ana and Westminster. Plans were already in the works to seek out and establish a first South Orange County location—possibly R.H. Dana.

“We want every student to graduate and to be college-, career- or life-ready,” Parks said. “One big focus for United Way is economic security. We want to help every family improve their financial well-being so that our students have that stability to allow them to succeed in school.”

Clients will be provided with personal coaching on a step-by-step financial plan to achieve personal goals and long-term financial stability, including job development, debt and credit management, and savings planning. Participants will also be able to connect to other United Way partner services, including free tax preparation, housing, health care, and transportation.

The program provides three months of financial literacy coaching to at least 50 client families of R.H. Dana and 50 client families who reside in Dana Point but do not have children who attend the school.

R.H. Dana principal Kristen Nelson will be a speaker at the virtual community event, which will be hosted by Shirin Behzadi. To register, find the online version of this article at for a link.

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