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Finding a job. Finding a partner.

As director of development for StepUP Ministry, Mary Allison Raper has one goal: to help people seeking to improve their lives and develop stable careers.

“In some parts of Wake County, there’s a 23% unemployment rate,” Mary Allison points out. “We’re on a mission to change that.”

The relationship with StepUP Ministry usually starts because someone is seeking a job. The program starts with a 32-hour job training program. “Our program is high relationship. We talk with them about why they’re unemployed,” Mary Allison says. “It’s not just about finding a job. We see them a person.”

StepUP works week-by-week to ensure that job seekers become employed. But they also know that income alone is insufficient for building a stable future.

“We know that sound financial education, services, and advice are key to creating real economic opportunity for the people we serve.”

The StepUP program takes 300-400 volunteers to make the program work. And that’s where Coastal comes in. During the program, volunteers from Coastal come in to answer questions and teach participants strategies for building a sound financial future.

But the relationship with Coastal doesn’t end after participants finish the program. “Coastal is willing to bank our members,” Mary Allison says.“ It doesn’t matter if they have limited, bad, or no financial history. They are there to support them to help them grow into a life of financial stability.”

Going forward, StepUP and Coastal hope many more underserved individuals may have access to high-quality financial services and relationships. For many, an introduction financial services and the ease of connecting with financial institutions will be the beginning of building a more stable life and a more stable financial future.