Photo: The QVS Fellows and Staff at National Orientation in August 2023.

 

Young adults are feeling enormous financial pressure. This is one of the greatest obstacles to participation in QVS. We’ve received this feedback over and over, from the survey we conducted this year and from previous Fellows. 

We hear these concerns and yet we want to maintain the integrity of our mission as a service program. While it is true that we live in a society that upholds money as the primary way of getting what we want and need, our hope is that those who elect to do a year with QVS are open to spending a year leaning into community to get needs met

That being said, we recognize the financial fears that often come with being a young adult today. We want to make our model as generous as possible while maintaining an effort to have a simple year that reflects a year of service. We’ve decided to maintain our modest personal stipend of $250/month/Fellow for this reason.

In fact, we feel that the current model provides more stability than what one might think going into a service program. We broke down our current model and measured it against the 50-30-20 rule, a budgeting recommendation that suggests 50% of earnings should go towards needs, 30% towards wants, and 20% towards savings and paying off debt.

We have discerned to raise what we are calling the Transitional Program Completion Stipend to help Fellows enter the next phase of life with something in savings or something with which to pay off student loan debt. In recent years, the Transitional Program Completion Stipend was on a sliding scale up to $1,500. Fellows were invited to request the amount that they felt was appropriate based on the financial resources they have access to. We will no longer ask Fellows to request an amount based on a sliding scale and instead all Fellows will receive $2,000 after completing the program.  

We feel that these shifts are in line with our mission as a program that values leaning into community and living simply, while answering to the need that young adults feel a sense of financial security.

We are also increasing funding available for equity and empowerment needs. For a number of years we have had a Black Hair Fund, which is exclusive to Black people based on the acknowledgement that Black hair and skin products and services are more expensive. We will be raising this stipend to $1,000 per eligible Fellow, per year, after hearing from Fellows about the need for an increase in this arena. We also plan to increase money we set aside for any and all equity-based needs of Fellows, which they can request via the Director of Equity and Empowerment. 

We feel that these shifts are in line with our mission as a program that values leaning into community and living simply, while answering to the need that young adults feel a sense of financial security. We hope that completing the program with some savings that can go towards an apartment, student loan payments, or whatever else is needed to transition to the next chapter, will provide a greater sense of security for Fellows.

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