Arlyssa Heard started FII during a difficult moment in her life. “Around the time of the housing crisis, my life completely turned upside down financially. I got in a situation where I was only working part-time. I had a used car and the amount of the car insurance was probably about $250, $300 a month, which at that time, I could not afford I did what a lot of Detroiters do, I drove without car insurance. It’s a risk, we know that, however, I couldn’t afford it. I had sets of tickets in Berkley, Michigan and Oak Park. I was driving and I got arrested.”
Heard was devastated, and the experience left her wondering how she could be arrested for not being able to afford something that was unaffordable. “With FII, one of the benefits is that you have access to UpTogether Funds. All you have to do is just type in what your funds are used for and I just laid it out. Within 48 hours, I got a message in my email that says, Your request has been approved. I was like, What? I went back and read it again, I said, No way, it can’t be that simple. Nothing is that easy.
Arlyssa paid everything off and was able to reinstate her license. “You ought to see me. I drive so free now, I don’t even look over my shoulder, I don’t even care. If I make a mistake, I forget to put on the blinker, I’m not paranoid because I’m free and clear.”
FII-Detroit Site Director Kofi Kenyatta explains that, “Michigan and the city of the Detroit have the highest auto insurance rates in the country. Some of the factors that insurance companies utilize to determine rates is based on zip codes. We all know that that isn’t always the fairest assessment.”
Kenyatta wants to see families thriving like this across the city. “My vision is that every community, every family partner in the city of Detroit will have the resources necessary to achieve their goals and dreams.” Direct investment in people, and offering them the choice and control to follow their own ideas are key factors in economic mobility. Time and again, Family Partners report that the FII environment helps them begin imagining again.
Duante Anderson had been stuck thinking small before FII. “The first thing with FII, I started allowing myself to dream again, which is rare,” he said. “It is also risky for me, but I made the decision to commit to that, and that first big step was really great.”
He and Frances Anderson are raising a family of seven kids together. “I started vision boarding for myself and wrote down some things that I wanted to establish,” she said. “As my kids watched me dreaming and desiring and I was sharing with them what the vision was, they pretty much took the vision and they ran with it.”
The Andersons got their kids involved in entrepreneurship trainings. Their son and daughter placed in national design competitions. As a family, the Andersons set 16 goals in 2017, and they reached all of them – including big goals like completely eliminating debt.
“Something that came out of becoming more disciplined in our spending with our finances was the ability to help others,” said Duante. There’s many times where somebody needed something, and I couldn’t help. I didn’t have it. It’s nice to be in a position to have a little something to help somebody else. That’s important to me.”