Updated: March 2019

Community Education Project—Our Model

Consumer Action empowers low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers nationwide to financially prosper through education and advocacy. In partnership with public and private entities, Consumer Action creates award-winning educational projects promoting informed participation in the marketplace by people of color, low-income and rural consumers, recent immigrants and seniors. Founded in 1971, Consumer Action is recognized throughout the country for its history of writing, translating and distributing educational materials on telephone, privacy, healthcare, insurance, utility and financial services.

With its special focus on serving low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers, Consumer Action maintains strong ties to a national network of nearly 7,000 community-based organizations. Outreach services include training and bulk mailings of financial education materials in many languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and others. Consumer Action’s rapidly expanding network is the largest and most diverse of its kind and allows us to continue to work to improve financial literacy at the community level.

Here are some of the consumer education projects funded by major corporations that are designed around this outreach and education model:

Consumer Action is a national, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Our Educational Outreach Model

Consumer Action’s model community-based education project now includes the following elements:

  • Educational modules that include: multilingual fact sheets, leader guides for community staff who counsel consumers; and PowerPoint workshop presentations, curricula and worksheets. We create between five and ten modules a year. Consumer Action retains editorial control over its publications.

The materials are distributed through our national community-based organization (CBO) network. CBO staff hand the publications to their clients in counseling sessions and use them in workshop settings. The materials we create are written clearly and simply, translated into the languages used in the community and distributed to consumers who are not be reached by traditional efforts. Throughout the country, Consumer Action is recognized as the primary source of multilingual consumer educational materials used in the community.

Each year we distribute more than one million publications through our national network of more than 7,500 CBOs and individual requests. Virtually all of our publications are available in Chinese, English, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese.

  • Train-the-trainer regional meetings which bring together CBO staff from a multi-state region to be trained by Consumer Action staff on using its modules and educating residents of their communities. Over the last three years, we trained staff of more than 1,000 agencies in Oakland, Dallas, Portland, Newark, New York City, Tampa, Chicago, Charlotte, Phoenix, Boston, Miami and Washington, D.C. Following the regional meetings, the participants, in turn, train their agency staff and volunteers to conduct presentations in their communities. In conjunction with the regional meetings we often train corporate partner staff to lead trainings, if this is desired.
  • Local train-the-trainer roundtables are hosted by agencies that attend our regional meetings. Hosting agencies are responsible for recruiting community groups to their roundtable. Consumer Action staff train the participants in English, Chinese and Spanish on best practices for using the educational modules. In the last three years, more than 1,000 groups have attended the our roundtables in locations such as Miami, New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Fort Lauderdale, Philadelphia, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Colorado and Maryland.
  • Multilingual media promotion includes press releases, PSAs, VNRs, ANRs and satellite media tours. Our media spokespersons conduct interviews in Chinese, English and Spanish. Consumer Action’s media outreach allows us to deliver key educational messages to millions of consumers that we would not reach otherwise. For example, one of our ANRs reached more than 27 million listeners on nearly 500 radio stations. Our media efforts encourage consumers to either request individual copies of our fact sheets by mail or access them on our web site.
  • Consumer Action’s unique, multilingual website (consumer-action.org) features our pricing surveys and more than 300 fact sheets and brochures. Consumer Action also offers a family of "subsites" organized by topic, such as housing, privacy, insurance, wireless education and financial literacy. Our publications are available through Consumer Action’s websites, which receive more than a million visitors each year. In addition, our CBO listserv alerts community agency staff by email of new publications so they can click back to order them online. Consumer Action also assists CBO staff through a toll-free number in its San Francisco office.
  • Consumer Action’s national mini-grant programs fund agencies to use our educational modules more extensively in the community. Consumer Action has awarded $200,000 to more than 100 CBOs in grants of $1,000 to $5,000. Consumer Action’s grants support effective community education at very low cost. While Consumer Action provides the staff training and materials, the CBOs tailor their program to the individual needs of their community.
  • Consumer advice and referral hotlines are provided in Chinese, English and Spanish. Consumers are also assisted via email. Our counselors assist consumers with questions and problems on topics including those covered by our publications.

Our Partners

Consumer Action works in educational partnerships with all segments of the community, including government agencies (such as HUD, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, EPA, FDIC and the Federal Reserve), major corporations (including AT&T, Capital One, Humana, PacifiCare, Microsoft, MCI, Sprint, Verizon, Washington Mutual, Bank of America and American Express); community-based organizations (including the national networks of county extension services and Consumer Credit Counseling Services; faith based organizations and churches as well as thousands of agencies serving people of color, seniors, people with disabilities and recent immigrants. In addition, we have completed more than 150 translation contracts in Spanish and Asian languages for the federal government, non-profit agencies and corporations. Click here to see our current partners.

Our Goal

Consumer Action seeks to expand and support its educational work in the community by partnering with additional public and private entities. For more information, please contact Executive Director Ken McEldowney by email or at 415-777-9648.

Community Testimonials

I wanted to thank you so much for inviting me to this year’s Consumer Action Financial Empowerment Conference. It was wonderful! The panels were great and I always learn so much from the other practitioners who attend... Just like last year, you and your team did a great job. Your staff is always on top of everything, and so accommodating in every way. – Deborah Lowe Muramoto, California Capital Financial Development Corporation

Consumer Action has been our partner for many years with their resources complimenting our topics and service delivery. It is extremely important to provide consumers the latest financial information and “be in the know.” Our HUD certified counselors share the materials and we have a lobby where material is displayed. CCCS-OC values the educational and advocacy of Consumer Action! We value the partnership and the opportunity to leverage resources to benefit consumers. – Sahara Navarro-Garcia, Director of Education, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Orange County

Thank you again for such a wonderful and relevant training [at Empower U in Oakland, California] for our court program and customers. - Judy B. Louie Director, ACCESS Center

“I wanted to express to you how valuable is each and every event presented by Consumer Action MoneyWi$e. We not only get a great deal out of the presentations but also through the networking that takes place. Thank you for all you do!” —Diane Boyer, Budget & Credit Team Leader, Affinity Fed Credit Union

Thank you so much for all the information you shared with us and how I wish I've met you two years ago before my house got foreclosed. I will bounce back but it's not easy when I'm the only one working. Your valuable information will guide me. - Susana Roxas, Breastfeeding Coordinator, TVHC WIC Program

The Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs uses the [MoneyWi$e] materials for lectures given by Investigators at local community functions and churches, in our lobby for the public, and to give to consumers who receive one-on-one counseling from one of our Intake Counselors. - Heather Turner, Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs

I am using your MoneyWi$e ID Theft and Senior Scams brochures for senior workshops I am conducting across the Mississippi Gulf Coast and South Mississippi. [Here are just a few] of the comments from senior citizens:

  • ‘I was made more aware of the frequency of the problem of identity theft and ways to prevent it from happening to me.’
  • ‘The brochure showed me new ways to protect myself, at home and out in public against identity theft.’
  • ‘I am now more aware of the ways I can be scammed, and where and to whom problems should be reported.’

—Julie McAdory, CCCS of Greater New Orleans (Hattiesburg)




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