At Morgan State, Students Team With the FDIC to Deliver Financial Education to Peers
In 2009, Morgan State University (MSU) in Baltimore, Maryland, was selected by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities to collaborate with the FDIC in exploring new ways to deliver the Money Smart for Young Adults curriculum to students. In conjunction with the federal government's AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer service program, which is aimed at bringing low-income individuals and communities out of poverty, MSU's Office of Student Success and Retention (OSSR) created a Financial Literacy Program to provide individualized support for students, from enrollment to graduation. Tiffany Beth Mfume, the OSSR Director, noted that the vision of the program is "to reverse the cycle of low family income and socio-economic status by enhancing the financial literacy of Morgan students and their families, thereby increasing retention and graduation rates."
The first three years of the Financial Literacy Program were managed by the AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer sent by the Corporation for National and Community Service -- a federal government agency and the nation's largest grant maker for service and volunteering -- in cooperation with a local affiliate called the Maryland DC Campus Compact. At the start of each of the last three academic years, MSU offered a symposium designed to introduce the school's financial education program to new students and to promote participation from the rest of the campus community.
And, part of what's special about the Morgan State program is that "peer ambassadors" -- volunteers who model the behavior of financially responsible college students -- teach their fellow students. Before the October 2013 kick-off event for the 2013-2014 program year, FDIC Community Affairs Specialist Tina Queen trained 16 peer ambassadors to use the FDIC's Money Smart for Young Adults curriculum.
Next, these students helped lead Money Smart workshops for MSU students in collaboration with PNC Bank. Forty-five minutes of each workshop consisted of education and exercises delivered by the peer ambassadors, on topics including the foundations of money management, saving, budgeting and credit. "Students provided positive feedback following the symposia," Mfume said, "including their desire to save money by paying themselves first,' reduce their credit card use, pay their bills on time, pay more than their minimum payments, and to pay cash for the things that they want."
For the past two years, MSU's football, volleyball and track teams have been required to participate in the Financial Literacy Program and the workshops with PNC Bank. Robert Fronta, the Program's current coordinator and AmeriCorps VISTA's volunteer at Morgan State, shared that "we are proud to announce the addition of the softball team as a cohort to the workshop series, starting with the 2013-2014 program year."
FDIC staff said that the model used at MSU demonstrates two promising practices in financial education.
"The first is peer delivery of financial education information, particularly to young people who otherwise may not be exposed to basic money management practices," according to Queen. "Especially important is choosing student-teachers who have the passion and dedication necessary to help others want to change their behavior when it comes to setting financial goals, using credit wisely and understanding how important it is to be prepared for that rainy day.'"
The second, observed FDIC Community Affairs Specialist Nicola Myers, is "MSU's engagement with a financial institution to provide relevant, timely, outcome-oriented educational content. It demonstrates how banks can effectively engage the community that they serve and potentially receive positive consideration under the Community Reinvestment Act."
Sounds like a win-win situation for everyone involved, including MSU's four athletic teams!
DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey, and an author who has written on how to avoid debt problems, was the guest speaker at the 2013 Financial Literacy Symposium at Baltimores Morgan State University.
Four athletic teams at Morgan State currently participate in Money Smart financial education workshops facilitated by fellow students.
After 10 Years of Teaching Money Smart to Diverse Groups, an Indiana Bank and its Clients Reflect on Successes
After Dian Reyome became the Financial Literacy Coordinator in 2004 at Centier Bank in Merrillville, Indiana, her first major partnership was with the FDIC, the Indiana Bankers Association, Networks Financial Institute (a public policy organization at Indiana State University) and the Indiana Department of Education in a joint effort to correlate the FDIC's Money Smart materials with the state's K-12 educational standards. That development -- before the FDIC had aligned its Money Smart materials with educational standards nationwide -- was a big step toward helping Indiana educators in the classrooms. And, it launched the bank's many successes in offering the FDIC financial education program to different target audiences in the communities it serves.
Centier continues to use the young adult version of Money Smart in high schools. It also makes educational presentations with the adult version to organizations such as WorkOne (a workforce development program in the Indiana state government), Habitat for Humanity, and Bank On Northwest Indiana partners. Centier also hosts an annual Financial Literacy Fair for Educators at the bank's corporate center during the spring.
"We have even found that the materials are great visuals for the hard of hearing when we make presentations to clients at DSI -- Deaf Services, Inc.," Reyome said,
Debra Pampalone, DSI's Deaf Services Program Director in Merrillville, Indiana, added, "The more education we can share with our clients, the better the chances of improving their quality of life. Education in all arenas is very important, but financial topics are where they need it most."
Tiffani Davis, Centier's Merrillville Branch Manager and Assistant Vice President, has taught both the individual classes and conducted Money Smart Train-the-Trainer workshops for educators. It's the latter that she especially finds rewarding. "Being allowed the opportunity to teach the FDIC curriculum to individuals who can, in turn, teach others, was truly a gift," she explained. "By sharing the program and its many facets, I've opened a door for every person those individuals will teach in the future. Financial education is extremely important, especially with the considerable number of unbanked and underbanked individuals in America."
Centier also uses the FDIC's Money Smart materials to prepare educational programs for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's Money Smart Week, and Centier reports great success presenting the Spanish and English versions of Money Smart at community centers and adult education classes.
Hammond, Indiana, is a largely industrial community near Chicago that has struggled to rebound from a loss of manufacturing jobs over the past couple of decades. Seretha Howard, an English-as-a-second language (ESL) teacher at the Hammond Career Center, recalled sitting with her adult education students during a Money Smart program featuring the "Charge It Right" module about credit cards. "The presentation was an eye opener for many ESL adult students, especially for the first-time credit card holders, because they saw how they could be heading toward trouble," she said. "They are now aware of the importance of having a credit card, as well as how to keep good credit. They realize that money is power, and it should be used wisely and intelligently."
Howard concluded, "The most valuable commodity is information. This is what Centier provided for our ESL students with the FDIC materials."
In a financial education class for clients of Deaf Services, Inc., as well as seniors at the Renaissance Towers independent living community in Hammond, Indiana, Lisa Crabtree (standing on the left), a supervisor at Centier Banks Merrillville Branch, teaches a Money Smart session while Debra Pampalone, Program Director of DSI, signs the presentation.