FINRA Investor Education Foundation and United Way Worldwide Announce More Than $1 Million in Grants to Support Grassroots Financial Education Projects
WASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation and United Way Worldwide (UWW) have announced more than $1 million in grants to eight recipients as part of the Financial Education in Your Community initiative.
Financial Education in Your Community, which is administered jointly by United Way Worldwide and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, funds community-based financial education programs across the country that provide effective, unbiased financial education resources for hardworking individuals and families. The latest group of grantees marks the fourth year of this partnership, which has awarded nearly $5.7 million to 47 grassroots projects since 2009.
"We are proud to continue our partnership with United Way Worldwide to provide support for community-based innovators who are developing effective approaches to financial education that can be leveraged in communities across the country," said Gerri Walsh, President of the FINRA Foundation. "Local non-profit organizations are integral to neighborhood social networks. They have a unique ability to craft programs and create environments in which participants can learn and make sound financial choices for themselves and their families."
Two-year grants were competitively awarded to local United Ways and other non-profit community groups that will undertake projects to help identify best practices for providing working individuals and families with the information they need to take action toward increasing their financial stability. The projects leverage strategic partnerships and successful existing programs, and target a diverse group of clients from areas of the country that have been hard hit by the economy. In addition to funding, the Foundation is providing unbiased financial education materials and ongoing technical assistance.
"United Way is committed to creating systemic changes that help working individuals and families achieve greater financial stability and independence," said Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide. "We are pleased that our partnership with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation will continue to provide critical information and resources to help navigate today's challenging economic climate."
Grants were awarded to:
Aloha United Way, Honolulu, HI
Aloha United Way will partner with the Hawaii Council on Economic Education and Hawaiian Community Assets to provide the training, resources and support necessary to integrate financial education with the programs of nine social service agencies serving older, at-risk youth. During the two-year project, the participating agencies will provide financial education for 600 young adults between the ages of 16 and 22, including those who may be involved in court proceedings, aging out of foster care, high school dropouts, English language learners, and teen parents. Most of these young people are in or will soon be entering the workforce, and most will not be enrolled in post-secondary training or education. In the early stages of the project, 75 social workers, counselors, law enforcement officials, and volunteers from the participating agencies will themselves participate in eight hours of basic financial education training in addition to training on culturally appropriate curriculum and effective teaching methods.
Grant amount: $141,144
Montana State University Extension, Bozeman, MT
Montana State University Extension will expand the statewide audience for Solid Finances, its successful Web-based financial education series. It will also partner with South Dakota State University Extension to build capacity and replicate the program in South Dakota. Financial education opportunities in rural areas are often extremely limited. The low population densities provide little incentive for for-profit providers and often pose insurmountable barriers for nonprofit educators. Take-up rates for static online programs are typically low. The Solid Finances program model has successfully overcome these challenges by combining distance-learning technology with opportunities for participant interaction. Based on the outcomes of the pilot program, project leaders anticipate that over 3,600 people will participate in 32 sessions offered during the two-year grant term.
Grant amount: $126,492
RISE Foundation, Memphis, TN
In collaboration with the Community Alliance for the Homeless, the RISE Foundation will create a sustainable and integrated financial education program for families experiencing homelessness in Greater Memphis. In the first part of the project, 50 employees from agencies that serve homeless families will themselves participate in a financial education workshop series and complete a train-the-trainer workshop. RISE will also work with two Alliance staff members and participating agencies to provide financial education training and skill development training for 200 volunteer mentors. Before the end of the grant term, at least 100 homeless families will complete the RISE Common Cents training and achieve at least one financial goal with the assistance of a volunteer mentor.
Grant amount: $124,703
Spokane County United Way, Spokane, WA
Spokane County United Way will partner with the Next Generation Zone, a youth-serving affiliate of WorkSource Spokane, to provide financial education and coaching for youth 16–24 years of age. Youth that receive intensive services from the Next Generation Zone are typically low-income and have not had access to financial education. Nearly 44 percent do not have a GED or high school diploma. They are newly employed, preparing to work, or have recently been placed in an internship experience. During the two-year project, the Next Generation Zone will fully integrate financial education into its core services, and 288 youth will complete training.
Grant amount: $150,000
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, Boston, MA
The United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley will develop a cost-effective model of standards-based financial coaching that will initially support 2,400 low-income individuals and families working toward economic security in Greater Boston. Project partners will also facilitate group financial coaching through a pilot program in a low-income Boston suburb. The six partner agencies participating in the project have deep roots in their communities and the capacity to serve a broad and diverse population of low-income residents throughout Greater Boston. Each has identified financial education and skill building as a priority for participants based on their analysis of intake data and information garnered during ongoing case management and counseling services. Financial coaching will be provided at four United Way one-stop financial stability centers located in the four communities with the highest poverty rates and greatest need in Massachusetts. Their efforts will be augmented by the work of two Boston agencies that provide comprehensive workforce development and asset-building services for unemployed and underemployed individuals.
Grant amount: $150,000
United Way of the Midlands, Omaha, NE
The United Way of the Midlands, in partnership with the Financial Hope Collaborative at Creighton University, will offer comprehensive financial education and ongoing support services for 180 families headed by single mothers earning less than $50,000 per year. The project partners will also conduct an assessment to measure the return on investment of the program model and test a theory that providing services for teams of clients who support and encourage each other will improve client outcomes. The program model, piloted through a 2009 Financial Education in Your Community grant, now comprises four main components, including: nine weeks of classroom training; one-on-one financial coaching for up to a year; monthly group meetings for program graduates providing ongoing peer-support and continuing education; and access to specially designed products and services that smooth the path to financial stability, including level bill-pay plans through local utilities and low-interest debt consolidation loans.
Grant amount: $149,479
United Way of Northeast Florida, Jacksonville, FL
The United Way of Northeast Florida will expand the Real$ense workplace financial education program for low- to moderate-income families to include nonprofit sector employees. The project recognizes that nonprofit organizations are often overlooked as the employers of many low-wage workers who live in fiscally precarious situations while serving the needs of the community. Real$ense will work with nonprofit employers up front and in depth to develop a mutually agreeable service plan outlining expectations, responsibilities and a class schedule. Real$ense staff will also work with each employer to identify potential participants, provide information about class availability, and conduct a needs survey among interested employees. A customized class series will be created for each workplace using the FDIC Money Smart curriculum and other non-commercial financial education materials. Any participant who indicates an interest in one-on-one coaching or counseling will be referred to an appropriate Real$ense partner for those intensive services. During the two-year grant term, 600 individuals from 60 nonprofit employers and small businesses will participate in the program.
Grant amount: $135,873
Village Family Service Center, Fargo, ND
The Village Family Service Center will provide basic financial education classes and counseling in partnership with nonprofit partners serving low-income single mothers, new Americans and clients with a history of substance abuse in Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota. Workshops will be tailored to meet the needs of each target audience, but the core program includes three one-hour classes on budgeting, credit and financial goal-setting. Workshops will be delivered in a classroom setting by counselors certified by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling using existing non-commercial financial education materials. All attendees will also have access to individual one-on-one sessions with a certified credit counselor.
Grant amount: $50,000
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools necessary for financial success throughout life. For details about grant programs and other FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit www.finrafoundation.org.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business – from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms, writing rules, enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws, informing and educating the investing public, providing trade reporting and other industry utilities, and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms. For more information, please visit www.finra.org.
United Way is a worldwide network in 45 countries and territories, including more than 1,200 local organizations in the U.S. It advances the common good, creating opportunities for a better life for all by focusing on the key building blocks of education, income and health. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change. For more information about United Way, please visit www.UnitedWay.org.