Karla Bachmann with Branches on Data’s Role in Financial Security

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This interview was originally featured in Tech For Equity Updates—a biweekly newsletter about Change Machine’s platform, including upcoming trainings, and insights from our community of practice. Subscribe today!

​​​​​​In this issue we’re featuring Karla Bachmann from Branches – a South Florida-based agency engaging children, youth, and adults with opportunities to become financially stable and make long-term, positive life choices. As the Vice President of Financial Wellness, Karla leads the development and implementation of programs that promote financial opportunity and asset building.

She co-authored My Family, My Self- The Latino Guide to Emotional Well-Being, a culturally sensitive guide in navigating the psychological, social, and cultural challenges faced after immigrating to America.

“I’m Latina, but my journey is different from the Cuban journey or a war refugee from Honduras. The best thing we can do to help is be representative of the community,” Karla noted – an important reminder as the country and Change Makers observe Latinx Heritage Month.

How does Change Machine’s platform impact your work?

The platform is better aligned with what we do. I think one of the problems about not using your data to advocate for your participants is that a lot of organizations are forced to cherry pick their participants so they can show their outcomes. I always say no money, no mission because I understand that I have to show some outcomes. A lot of well intended organizations that have this impact, anecdotally, won’t be able to get the funding to continue their good work because they can’t prove it. That’s the problem in our industry.

But people with other factors such as culture, language, and their immigration status – those are our families. With Change Machine’s platform, we can say people with six months of coaching are able to save $10 a month. It’s going to take them longer, but we are not disinvested in these communities. We’re not fixated on the most common outcomes as defining success.

How does your work contribute to advocacy in your community or nationally?

The most important contribution that we make towards advocacy and to our partners is our data. I think we have the most complete data and we wanted something so specific that we have never stopped customizing Change Machine’s platform. So we are able to provide numbers and concepts with our data collection, evaluation strategy, and culture that our advocacy partners do not have access to.

People in this industry want to see our work’s impact. If all of these hours of collecting data goes into the Bermuda Triangle and never comes out, I don’t see my work or myself reflected. So we went with Change Machine’s platform because it was colorful, easier, and very user friendly. These features are similar to what I would like to do on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. Even the appeal of it makes a difference in how people interact.

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