News Release

FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the American Library Association Announce $1.8 Million in Grants to Public Libraries to Support Financial Literacy

For Release: 
Monday, February 2, 2015
Contact(s): 

George Smaragdis, FINRA Foundation  (202) 728-8988
Marianne Braverman, American Library Association  (800) 545-2433 x4398

WASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation and the American Library Association (ALA) have announced $1.8 million in grants to 21 recipients as part of the Smart investing‌@your library® initiative.

Smart investing‌@your library® is administered jointly by the Reference and User Services Association—a division of ALA—and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. The program funds library efforts to provide patrons with effective, unbiased educational resources about personal finance and investing. Now in its eighth year, the program has awarded a total of $10 million to public libraries, community college libraries and library networks nationwide.

The new grant recipients will use the funds to implement a variety of programs and services designed to increase patrons' access to and understanding of financial information. The grants target a diverse group of library patrons—among them youth, veterans, college students, Native Americans, immigrant families, Spanish speakers, seniors and low-income families. Participating libraries will connect library users to high-quality, unbiased financial education and information resources. This year's projects give special attention to integrating financial literacy with library-based programs for English language learners, intergenerational programs for women and programming for military families.

The grantees will partner with schools, universities, community colleges, various nonprofit organizations, and local governments to expand the impact of the services and resources the grants enable. Library patrons will be empowered to make educated financial choices for both long-term investing and day-to-day money matters.

"Over the past several years, we've learned through this initiative that libraries are uniquely well positioned in their communities to help residents with their personal finance information needs. Library patrons can be confident that their own best interests are at the heart of all programming," said Gerri Walsh, president of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

"These projects highlight the library's essential role in every community as an indispensable hub for learning. Trained library staff are creating innovative, activity-based programs and collaborating with their community partners to ensure that unbiased, financial information is readily available to address the information needs of everyone no matter what age or economic circumstance," said ALA President Courtney L. Young.

2014 Smart investing‌@your library® Grantees

The 2014 grant recipients are:

Appalachian Regional Library System, West Jefferson, NC
In partnership with community agencies and educational institutions, Appalachian Regional Library System will provide financial capability programming for women. Information for young adults in high school and college will focus on financing educational costs, basic budgeting, saving for major purchases and an introduction to investing. For women in midlife and nearing retirement, programs will help participants prepare for their children's education expenses, manage household budgets, recover from financial setbacks and stick to a retirement saving and investing plan while caring for aging parents. Grant amount: $58,521

Edwin A. Bemis Public Library, Littleton, CO
The Littleton Immigrant Resources Center, a division of the Edwin A. Bemis Public Library, will provide recent immigrant families residing in the South Denver metropolitan area with support and instruction on how to manage money in their newly adopted country. The program will combine financial literacy classes with individualized mentoring. The classroom modules will cover budgeting 101, credit fundamentals and understanding the U.S. banking system. Learning will be integrated into the library's ESL for Financial Success program and other citizenship services. Grant amount: $72,350

Boone County Public Library, Burlington, KY
Under the rubric "Earn–Save–Spend," Boone County Public Library and the Brighton Center, a leading social services agency in the county, will provide in-depth learning experiences for families, educators and older adults (ages 65+). The project will challenge families to evaluate their financial health and take steps to make tangible improvements. Grant amount: $100,000

Chicago Public Library, Chicago, IL
The Chicago Public Library will collaborate with the city's Office of Financial Inclusion to improve access to financial education and online financial skill-building for local communities in need, especially unbanked residents and new immigrant populations. As a major component of this effort, the library will train and deputize its corps of "CyberNavigators" to provide on-demand assistance to library patrons seeking access to reliable financial information. The CyberNavigators are an existing group of technology experts in most of the library's 80 locations who work directly with patrons to improve basic digital skills. Grant amount: $100,000

Clayton County Library System, Jonesboro, GA
Clayton County Library System will provide financial education experiences tailored to the needs of four audiences—entrepreneurs, financially disenfranchised families, senior citizens and youth. The project will enhance participants' prospects for self-sufficiency through financial literacy training, provide the fundamentals for economic decision-making and connect each audience to community resources. Clayton State University's Small Business Development Center and the county's Economic Development Department will deliver an investing 101 series to entrepreneurs. Financially disenfranchised families and seniors will benefit from library partnerships with social service agencies, faith-based organizations and the Department of Senior Services. The library will integrate financial literacy into the county's summer reading program in partnership with 4-H, scout groups and the Parks and Recreation Department. Grant amount: $100,000

Curtis Memorial Library, Brunswick, ME
Curtis Memorial Library will undertake a communitywide financial literacy campaign to assist low- to moderate-income individuals and families who are "just getting by" and who want to learn simple strategies to improve their financial health. The library will help residents in need through a diverse series of financial literacy experiences using multiple venues and formats, including: a Family Financial Fair and How-to Festival to showcase financial education opportunities available to residents and introduce the resources available at the library; short, easy-to-understand weekly workshops on practical ways to save money, supplement income and protect wealth; "Curtis Money Meet-ups" to supplement the workshops with facilitated book group discussions about spending mindfully, understanding financial psychology, managing and eliminating debt and building assets; and interactive financial literacy exhibits at the library to promote intergenerational learning and explore the mathematics of money. Grant amount: $92,140

Emmet O'Neal Library, Mountain Brook, AL
Emmet O'Neal Library will partner with faculty from the University of Alabama-Birmingham to deliver educational experiences related to advanced personal finance topics, such as: understanding global financial markets, investing in stocks and bonds, conducting investment research, and selecting financial professionals. For residents in or nearing retirement, the project will help participants examine Medicare options and other insurance-related decisions. For early career adults in their 20s and 30s, the library will use a "Table Talk$" format featuring conversational seminars at reception-like gatherings. Table Talk$ will address saving and investing for major life goals, such as buying a house or starting a family. Teen programming will focus on how to save for college and how to make appropriate financial decisions while in college. Seminars will help teens understand the connections among choice of major, earning potential following graduation and how much is too much to borrow. Local experts on small business start-ups will meet with teen entrepreneurs to discuss ways to grow their businesses and help them understand the financial concepts and decisions they will confront in the process. Grant amount: $77,000

Fulton-Montgomery Community College Library, Johnstown, NY
Evans Library at Fulton-Montgomery Community College will serve students enrolled at the college and at high schools in the Mohawk Valley region of upstate New York with programming about college financing and general financial literacy. Learning will take the form of workshops, tutorials and Web-based instruction. Among other topics, programs will address: budgeting;,credit card education, the importance of banking relationships, the financial aid process and FAFSA filing, managing student loan debt, choice of college major and lifetime earning potential, wise use of the financial aid refund, fitting college costs into the family budget, and benefits available through the GI Bill. Grant amount: $91,388

Hawaii State Public Library System, Honolulu, HI
The Hawaii State Public Library System will undertake Keika to Kapuna (literally, children to grandparents)—a multigenerational financial literacy initiative using performance, competitions, online engagement and workshops to improve residents' financial skills. For students in grades K through 6, the library will partner with the National Theatre for Children to deliver dramatic performances of "Showdown at Cash Canyon." Children will learn the importance of long-term savings and the skills to achieve it. The performances will be coupled with access to the theater's online learning platform, which will provide interactives designed to reinforce concepts introduced during the live performances. For tweens and teens, Keika to Kapuna will include a collaboration with Junior Achievement to deliver JA Personal Finance and JA Economics for Success. To give students an opportunity to test their skills, the library will join with the Office of the Securities Commissioner to sponsor a LifeSmarts competition. For adults and senior citizens, the library and the Securities Commissioner will host presentations on safeguarding investments, understanding predatory lending and avoiding fraud. Grant amount: $100,000

Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Public Library will partner with the Women's Employment Network and several other local agencies to provide a continuum of financial literacy services for women, immigrants and other adults living in three low-income neighborhoods. Each of these neighborhoods is served by a library branch used heavily by residents experiencing economic challenges. The project goal is to support those starting out or starting over on the path to financial stability. Through a series of culturally responsive interventions, the project partners will help the targeted audiences understand the essentials of the U.S. banking system, avoid identity theft, establish credit as an asset-building tool, acquire budgeting skills and gain proficiency in financial communications. Grant amount: $100,000

Lake Region State College Library, Devils Lake, ND
Lake Region State College Library will lead a personal financial management and investor education initiative serving college audiences and the broader community in northeastern North Dakota—a largely rural area inclusive of Grand Forks Air Force Base and Camp Grafton (Army National Guard). The audiences comprising the project include: dual-credit, full-time, part-time, military and veteran students; military families residing in the region; and patrons of public libraries in the region. The project will deliver seminars on budgeting basics, credit 101 and action plans for saving and investing. Grant amount: $77,250

Lebanon Community Library District, Lebanon, PA
Lebanon Community Library District and its six member libraries will partner with the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Lebanon County LINK and Lebanon Valley College to undertake a financial transitions initiative aimed at supporting: (1) young adults who are transitioning from financially dependent living to making independent financial decisions; and (2) older adults who are transitioning to unfamiliar technology-based transactions, such as electronic bill pay, tax filing, account management and interactions with government agencies. Lebanon County LINK is a collaborative funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging to provide services and support for people over the age of 60. Grant amount: $92,500

Montrose Regional Library District, Montrose, CO
Montrose Regional Library District will provide financial education for low-income senior citizens, Spanish-speaking residents and students at a charter school for pregnant and parenting teens. The library will also provide a series of classes on investing topics for the general adult population. For senior citizens, the library will coordinate monthly classes at senior living facilities. The series will address health care costs, safeguarding investments, managing retirement income and financial security after the loss of a spouse. For Spanish-speaking residents, classes at library branches will use the FDIC's Money Smart for Adults program to help participants establish a banking relationship, save for a large purchase and avoid financial fraud. For Passage Charter School students, financial literacy instruction will be fully integrated into the regular curriculum and will focus on developing a financial plan, budgeting, credit, saving for education and insurance. The library will also coordinate classes for the students' parents. For general adult audiences in the region, the library will sponsor seminars on preparing to invest, choosing the right investments and selecting investment professionals. Grant amount: $94,590

Patchogue-Medford Library, Patchogue, NY
Patchogue-Medford Library will pursue an intergenerational strategy to address financial capability across the lifecycle through an array of age-appropriate, hands-on activities and workshops delivered in English and Spanish. Young learners and their parents will explore foundational financial literacy concepts through children's literature. Teens will participate in workshops on basic money management, budgeting and setting financial goals. These workshops will include sessions that bring teens and parents together for activities that identify ways families can work together to achieve their financial objectives. For "new adults" who have recently entered the workforce and might not yet be thinking about retirement planning, the library will offer workshops on the basics of investing and risk management. New Americans will acquire financial competencies related to credit, debt management and banking through modules integrated into the library's ESOL classes. And senior citizen programming will address financial management in retirement through sessions on investing after 60 and avoiding fraud. Grant amount: $59,752

Pike County Public Library District, Pikeville, KY
Pike County Public Library, serving a coal-mining region with high poverty rates, will build on the success of its multi-generational financial literacy programming (funded by an earlier FINRA Foundation grant) to address the needs of: (1) the county's unemployed population; and (2) residents who have achieved a measure of financial stability and now must focus on securing their financial future. The initiative will make use of the library's new central facility, its mobile computer lab and its full branch network to bring educational programs and reliable financial information to convenient locations in the area. Grant amount: $80,675

Pioneer Library System, Norman, OK
Pioneer Library System will partner with the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma and the director of investment operations at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to offer a series of interactive financial and investor education programs for: members and employees of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, Citizen Potawatomi Nation and Chickasaw Nation; high-school students and public-school employees in the library system's service area; and staff of the system's 11 member libraries. A six-week, Fiscally Fit Bootcamp series will address participants' financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviors, and build their skills related to everyday money management and planning. For bootcamp graduates, Pioneer will offer a four-week sequence covering investing topics in greater depth. These supplementary sessions will pick up where the bootcamp series leaves off and give particular attention to investing for retirement and college expenses. Grant amount: $39,577

Salt Lake County Library Services, West Jordan, UT
Salt Lake County Library and the English Skills Learning Center will coordinate basic financial education for recent refugees and immigrant families who have low income and limited literacy skills (even in their own languages). The program will integrate financial instruction into well-established services for the target audience, and will increase participants' skills related to the U.S. banking system, budgeting, credit products and financial planning. The local refugee and immigrant population arrives in Salt Lake County primarily from Burma, Iraq, Bhutan, Somalia, Eritrea, Afghanistan and the Congo. The project partners will help these communities: (1) master the vocabulary and understanding to conduct banking transactions, create a budget, recognize predatory lending practices and avoid fraud; and (2) comprehend asset-building strategies and plan for the future. Grant amount: $99,000

San Diego Public Library, San Diego, CA
San Diego Public Library will expand its financial education resources and services for military families, older adults who are struggling financially and youth, especially those coping with challenging financial circumstances. With Fleet and Family Services, the library will provide family-friendly programs at branches near military installations and housing. These programs will help parents ensure that their children acquire the skills and knowledge for financial capability. Parents themselves will gain skills related to budgeting, banking, credit, retirement planning and avoiding financial fraud. For financially struggling senior citizens, the library will collaborate with counselors to provide financial fitness classes and one-on-one coaching sessions to stabilize participants' financial situations and access income-support services. To engage youth (especially homeless teens), the library will partner with the San Diego Unified School District to create both credit-bearing and co-curricular activities that allow high school students to master core financial competencies, including budgeting, credit and banking. Grant amount: $100,000

San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA
The San Francisco Public Library will integrate its programs, services and collections into the financial framework of the city by: (1) making it a hub for financial education resources and activities at neighborhood locations; (2) developing an online presence allowing residents to access high-quality, unbiased financial information; and (3) using social media to encourage the San Francisco community to take full advantage of the financial information and learning opportunities freely available to them. In partnership with the San Francisco Smart Money Network of financial education providers and the city's Office of Financial Empowerment, the library will train its front-line staff on best-in-category financial information tools suitable for use with the public. The library and its partners will also deliver a series of educational programs on general financial planning, financial recovery, investing for retirement, estate planning and insurance topics. Grant amount: $100,000

Virginia Beach Public Library, Virginia Beach, VA
Under the banner "live simple, live more," Virginia Beach Public Library and its partners will embrace consumer interest in minimalism and help residents become more conscious of their financial decisions through engaging activities dealing with budgeting, saving and investing. The project will devote particular attention to senior citizens, military families, women in transitional housing and disabled persons with limited income. The project will begin by integrating personal finance topics into existing library programs with a devoted following. The library will also establish a series of "life event" workshops and courses on retirement planning, financing higher education, preparing financially for a new child and managing changes to marital status. Samaritan House (serving victims of domestic abuse and homelessness); Women, Infants & Children; and the Fleet and Family Support Center will assist with program delivery. For all programming elements, the library will collaborate with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Disabled to adapt program materials for city residents who have accessibility challenges. Grant amount: $66,100

Washington-Centerville Public Library, Centerville, OH
Through partnerships with the local school district and a nearby children's museum, the Washington-Centerville Public Library will provide hands-on family financial literacy activities for county residents, while building the capacity of parents and educators to boost the financial literacy of children and teens. The project learning outcomes will align with the financial literacy strand of the Ohio Revised Standards in Social Studies. Library staff will work with school faculty and exhibit specialists from the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery to create a traveling financial literacy exhibit. The exhibit will help children and teens learn how to lead financially responsible lives. Circulating money-themed kits will extend learning into the home and serve as a springboard for parent-child conversations about financial responsibility. A series of workshops and contests for children and teens will complement the exhibit and challenge participants to practice their new skills. Following a period of use at the Washington-Centerville Public Library and the museum, the exhibit will travel to schools and other libraries throughout the region. Grant amount: $100,000

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative research 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, please 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, and informing and educating the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms. For more information, please visit www.finra.org.

The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services and collection materials they need. For more information, please visit www.ala.org/rusa. The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 60,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information. For more information, please visit www.ala.org.