Social work student, Comfort Dondo, testifies in support of FAIM

February 17, 2015
BSW student, Comfort Dondo, testifies at the MN legislature on behalf of FAIM
Comfort Dondo testifies at MN Legislature

On February 16, Comfort Dondo, BSW 2015, put policy into practice and testified at the State Legislature in support of SF137: Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota (FAIM) program provisions modifications and appropriation

Excerpts from Comfort's testimony:

I am a first-generation immigrant from Zimbabwe and have since become a permanent resident of the USA. I want to thank you for this chance to talk about SF 137. I also want to take time to acknowledge Senator Benson and say thank you. I know you are a champion in continuing to support FAIM over the years. Your support has drastically helped me achieve one more step towards my dreams of ending the vicious cycle of generational poverty and educating myself and my children.

I am a graduate of the Anoka County Community Action FAIM Program. I first learned about this wonderful program through St. Catherine University's Access and Success program. According to the Children’s Defense Fund (2014), maternal education has a causal impact on children’s educational outcomes. With this thought in mind, I enrolled in the FAIM program because of its holistic approach. (The financial literacy part of the program as well as the funding they assist you with. I would not only be getting some assistance with cash, but I was getting a life-long education on how to change my mindset about money and saving).

My two primary objectives when I joined FAIM were to, first, use the FAIM funds to pay some of my tuition and free up some funds for my son's after-school program. My second goal was to be able to pass this gift of education to my children. As you may agree with one of my favorite leaders, Madiba Nelson Mandela, “Education is the only tool that can be used to end poverty.” I knew that If I got the education, I would be better-equipped to stop this cycle of generational poverty. Through educating my children about financial responsibility, I know that they will never have to deal with some of the economic issues I have had to deal with because of living in poverty.

I had the privilege to work with the Anoka FAIM program, and my financial coach has become a lifetime coach. I call her "my money mentor."  She still emails me to check on how I am doing financially. I still email or call her with money questions whenever I am in doubt, and she is still open to answering my questions, even after I left the program.

Yesterday I gave a welcome speech to the incoming Social Work Honor's students. I was reflecting on today's testimony and became overwhelmed with emotion because I know that without a wealth of resources like FAIM and their coaches, I would have never made it in the Beta Epsilon Honors Chapter.

Graduating this coming May at the top of my class, I have applied to Harvard Law School and the U of M Humphrey School of Policy, among other Graduate Schools I am considering. Again, it would have been impossible for me to achieve this [without FAIM]! For these and other proven success stories, I urge your support funding towards continuing this program. Giving people funding alone is not enough. A holistic coaching program like FAIM has proven to work.  It has worked for me and my former FAIM classmates who have saved for a downpayment of a home, started businesses and, like me, have since been off public assistance because I am able to make enough to sustain my family.

Thank you.

Comfort's testimony can be viewed HERE (starting at approx. minute 36)

Brooks-Gunn, J., & Duncan, G. J. (1997). The effects of poverty on children. The future of children, 55-71.