Special Delivery: How Money Smart Partners Are Bringing Financial Education to Unusual Venues
Since the start of the FDIC’s financial education program in 2001, more than 600,000 people have taken a Money Smart class, most at a school, financial institution, non-profit organization, government agency or some other traditional setting. Thousands more have learned about finances by using our Computer-Based Instruction curriculum that enables people to study independently at their own pace. But these delivery methods may not work for everyone. Here are examples of Money Smart partners providing special delivery of financial education to people with unique needs.
In Honolulu, each year for the last five years about 200 inmates at the Federal Detention Center have attended Money Smart classes offered through the Center’s education program, headed by Supervisor of Education Patricia Ocasio. The facility houses approximately 600 male and female inmates who are being held pending a hearing or trial, or who are serving out their sentences. Teacher Sheryl-lynn Camello offers all 10 modules of the Money Smart curriculum at each of the facility’s seven housing units twice each year.
"Money management issues are a problem for many inmates, leading them to go outside the law for ‘fast money,’" Camello said. "Our students are really interested in learning more about how to better handle their money, particularly balancing a checkbook and setting up and keeping to a budget." Graduates of the program are presented with certificates, and their achievement is noted on their official education transcripts.
"The ability to understand the basics of personal finance is essential to a prisoner’s successful transition back into society," added FDIC Community Affairs Specialist Lisa Kanemoto. "Ms. Ocasio and Ms. Camello, working under the direction of Warden John T. Rathman, are to be commended for their commitment to helping prisoners acquire much-needed financial management skills and begin a new life for themselves and their families."
In another example, Texas Cooperative Extension (TCE), an educational partnership of federal, state and county governments, has been teaching money management and other "life skills" in low-income neighborhoods in classes held very close to home -- in the residents’ driveways!
The classes are held in "colonias," the name for unincorporated settlements, usually in rural areas along the Mexican border, where families wanting affordable housing have bought small pieces of land from developers and then built their own homes using whatever materials they could afford. And because the colonias are not part of cities or towns, the houses generally do not have electricity, plumbing, paved roads or other amenities.
FDIC Community Affairs Officer Eloy Villafranca said among the goals of financial education in the colonias is "to empower the residents to save money and understand their rights, so they can rent houses outside the colonias and better establish themselves."
There may be a few reasons TCE teaches its classes in the driveways of the colonias, according to Villafranca. One reason may be a lack of electricity and good lighting inside the buildings. Another may be the likelihood there are no schools or other meeting rooms in or close to the colonias. But he said another reason is to hold the classes out in the open and to try to draw in more participants, especially among those in the community who at first may be unwilling to attend.