30 Stories to Celebrate 30 Years of Service
Rene and Christian
Rene and Christian
Rene and Christian
Rene, 18, and Christian, 15, are brothers that have been involved with Innovative Futures for the past seven years. They have had the opportunity to participate in countless activities throughout the program but the one that sticks out the most is the Individual Development Accounts (IDA) and financial education program. In this program Rene and Christian were able to learn about goal setting and positive money management. Rene states, "The program taught me about bank accounts, credit cards, and loans and the importance of being financially responsible. It also showed me how to save money and that with a plan, it is actually pretty easy to save. At the end of the program IHI doubled the amount of money I saved and I was able to purchase an iPod touch." Christian used his savings to purchase two bikes, which he uses to ride to school.

One of the goals of Innovative Futures is to improve academic success of resident youth. Rene and Christian have both benefited from this over the years, but this has been especially important to them recently. This summer when Christian needed to take extra classes to stay on track for high school graduation, his family was unsure how they were going to afford the extra expense. IHI provided the funds for Christian to complete his classes the summer. Christian says he appreciates the Innovative Futures program because, "Emma would have homework time and that was helpful because I had a lot of homework." He is also very thankful to IHI because "them helping me pay for summer school has helped put me on the right track to graduating from high school." For Rene, IHI recently paid to help him pursue his GED - he is currently completing a GED preparatory class and plans to take the test early next year.

Rene and Christian both agree that the Innovative Futures program has given them opportunities that they wouldn't have had otherwise. They enjoy going on the field trips and volunteering. Rene and Christian both raved about the time they went to the zoo to volunteer. After they were done volunteering, the zookeepers took the group behind the scenes and they had the opportunity to see the elephants up close and even feed them! Rene states, "We would not have had the same experiences without the programming; our experiences would have been a lot different. I wouldn't have learned about the things they have taught. I really appreciate all the stuff they have done. The staff has helped by having a strong positive impact. They helped me get on the right track and pursue my GED. They actually care about me and aren't pretending to care. They want me to go to class and be a better person than what I was being. They have turned me around."