Greensboro’s Family Success Center changes lives with adult and child education

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The statistics are staggering.

According to United Way of Greater Greensboro, the city of Greensboro ranks 31 percent above the national poverty average, with roughly 57 thousand people -- many of whom are children -- living in those conditions right now.

That’s why United Way of Greater Greensboro launched the Family Success Center to help turn lives around.

"I was employed for over ten years and I lost my job due to involuntary dismissal," said Patricia Shelton, a Greensboro resident. "I went through a period of brokenness and I was very depressed."

It was a blow the single mother of three never saw coming. Interview after interview, she kept getting the same feedback.

"It was very frustrating considering I had so much experience but lacked the education," Shelton said. "So I knew then that my first step and my first goal would be to achieve my GED."

In February, she found the United Way of Greater Greensboro’s Family Success Center

"We didn’t go into this neighborhood saying what they should have," said Mark Cole, director of FSC. "We listened to the participants in this neighborhood first, what they needed."

Housed at Guilford Child Development, FSC is a two-generational approach to breaking the cycle of poverty. The Women to Women Endowment, an initiative of the Community Foundation, provided a $210,000 grant to support the GED programming and high-quality childcare.

"While Mom and Dad are here bettering their lives by taking classes, for the children, it's not just babysitting," said Cole. "They go through a curriculum, learning their numbers and colors and preparing them for school to hopefully break that cycle."

With more than 30 community partners, FSC takes a holistic approach. Services focus on employment, education, financial stability and health and wellness.

"It’s not “oh, you finished your GED, here’s the next step," Cole said of the program. "They’re getting those side steps as they go through to obtain their GED as well."

Shelton is about halfway through the program and looking forward to landing a career where she can pay it forward.

"When I think of the Family Success Center, I think of family, home, friendship, love, safe place, sanctuary," said Shelton. "Those are the type of things I would tell anyone in my shoes to look forward to when they come to the Family Success Center."

The Family Success Center launched in 2015 and has helped more than 200 families. According to the United Way of Greater Greensboro, 31 adults have earned their GED through the program and 41 are currently working on it.