Winning Ideas for Financial Programming

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation and the American Library Association recently announced that grants had been awarded to sixteen libraries as part of the Smart investing@your library initiative. The grants can be used to “to implement a variety of programs designed to increase patrons’ access to and understanding of financial information. … Participating libraries will use a variety of technologies and outreach strategies to connect library users to the best financial education and information available. These strategies include online learning, seminars, one-on-one clinics, storytelling, performances and staff training.”

Although this year’s Financial Wellness Month is just about over, I thought you might be inspired by the partnerships and programming the winning libraries have created, perhaps incorporating them into your plans for next year:

  • Ada County (Idaho) Free Library District will offer an array of programs and electronic services through its LYNX! consortium libraries to meet the financial education needs of Generation Y residents (ages 18–32). The University of Idaho Extension and other state agencies will collaborate on a variety of project components, including finance book clubs for young professionals and a personal finance portal designed for mobile telephones and tablet computers.

  • Albany County (Wyo.) Public Library is partnering with faculty from the University of Wyoming and a local technical college to provide Laramie residents with a better understanding of personal finances and tools to make optimal financial decisions. Workshops will emphasize finance basics, preparing to invest, retirement planning, and student loan debt management.

  • Boone County (Ky.) Public Library and the Brighton Center, a social services agency reaching 84,000 clients in northern Kentucky, are collaborating to improve the financial literacy and fiscal health of families in the region. The project will challenge families to evaluate and improve their financial health through a series of interactive learning experiences.

  • Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library will offer a combination of workshops, seminars, individual counseling sessions, and virtual investment clubs for adults and teens in the library ’s service area. The Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (the nation’s first community development corporation), the Coalition for Debtor Education, and Mind Your Money (an organization devoted to the financial literacy of teens and pre-teens) will assist with public programs and one-on-one counseling.

  • Dakota County (Minn.) Library’s initiative, “Dollars by the Decade,” will promote financial literacy education as a lifelong process addressing the evolving needs of residents in various life stages. Recognizing that individuals will come to the program with different levels of knowledge and interests, the program will use print, digital and in-person workshops to teach personal finance fundamentals such as budgeting, saving, spending, credit, and financial protection.

  • Delaware County (Pa.) Library System is partnering with the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley and various Pennsylvania state agencies to improve the financial literacy and capability of low- to moderate-income families in the region. Educational experiences will help participants manage budgets and debt and plan for future needs.

  • Fairfield (Conn.) Public Library will build on its award-winning job assistance program and offer a series of practical personal finance workshops for adults aimed at expanding investing capability with a combination of direct instruction and team-based learning.

  • Genesee District Library in Flint, Michigan, will collaborate with Central Michigan University and the regional chamber of commerce to establish a “family financial freedom” education initiative with programming and services for K–12 students, current college students, recent graduates, and African-American women, among others.

  • Greenville County (S.C.) Library System and its partners will pursue a multifaceted project designed to turn personal finance assumptions into changed attitudes, changed attitudes into changed behaviors, and changed behaviors into changed habits. Workshops on the psychology of spending, a public information campaign anchored by a dedicated project website, and help with tax preparation are just a few of the strategies planned to help female heads of household overcome obstacles and achieve their money goals.

  • Jackson (Mich.) District Library is partnering with United Way and other community agencies to deliver financial education resources in the county and improve communications about finances among low- and moderate-income households. Participants will develop a financial plan, increase their knowledge about money management and investing, and gain better access to learning resources with support from a personal finance help desk service and classes based on the FDIC Money Smart curriculum.

  • Niles (Ill.) Public Library District will work with university and government partners in the region to help adults ages fifty and older get prepared to make capable decisions in the years immediately preceding and during retirement. Topics will include a better understanding of Social Security, retirement preparedness, predatory financial practices, and investment fraud.

  • Pioneer Library System in Norman, Oklahoma, will partner with the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma, Citizen Pottawatomi Nation, Chickasaw Nation, and employers in the hometowns of its ten member libraries to offer “fiscally fit boot camps” to employees.

  • Richland County (S.C.) Public Library will combine traditional educational activities (workshops, story times, and outreach presentations) with creative and engaging experiences for families. The library will partner with Lunch Money, a children’s band that “brings indie-rock to family audiences,” to write a children’s song about money, earning, and saving for the future, and to schedule performances for young children. The library will work with Columbia College and local schools to engage teens in creating performances and games that teach younger children financial basics. The library’s African-American History and Cultural Events Committee will work with partner organizations to sponsor and promote a series of family-focused financial literacy events on topics ranging from home ownership and saving for college to the basics of investing.

  • Seekonk (Mass.) Public Library and its partners will assist women ages twenty-five and over as they master financial basics, craft long-term financial plans, and acquire the saving and investing skills to put these plans into practice. Instructional programs will be organized around themes and will be supplemented by a series of networking events to add a social dimension to the program and allow participants to learn from each other. Guest speakers will address fiscal fitness for women. Business school faculty from Johnson & Wales University and staff from Money Management International (a nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency) will lead the seminars.

  • The State Library of Iowa in Des Moines, in partnership with Iowa State University Extension and Ames Public Library, will expand a successful, mixed-methods (online and face-to-face), library-based financial education model to eighteen underserved rural communities across Iowa. The online courses will each last six weeks and will be segmented according to three generational cohorts: Starting Out (Generation X), Building Up (trailing Baby Boomers), and Making it Last (retirees). A capstone, face-to-face event in each location will follow the online learning and bring the local libraries into lasting partnership with community organizations.

  • York County (Pa.) Library System will partner with seventeen high schools and seven urban elementary schools to improve the financial literacy and capability of students and parents by connecting them with the personal finance resources available through county libraries. The project will seek to teach York County high school juniors and seniors how to build a financial plan for post–high school success, and will equip parents of high school juniors and seniors with financial literacy tools to guide their teenagers ’ financial planning. Younger children will learn about spending, saving, and borrowing, and their parents will learn financial literacy tools to reinforce their own financial knowledge and help them positively influence their children’s future money management skills.

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