Massachusetts non-profits learn about MoneyWi$e

Consumer Action and Capital One staff head to Boston, Massachusetts to train community organizations on financial literacy.

Published: Tuesday, June 16, 2009

To empower counselors, educators and frontline advocates with financial education knowledge and provide them with the tools they need to better serve their clients, Consumer Action and Capital One once again joined forces to host a MoneyWi$e train-the-trainer conference in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 27th.

With tens of thousands of agencies working hard to improve the lives of recession-hit consumers, the Bay State has one of the highest concentrations of non-profits in the nation. Many of these organizations are playing a critical role in helping residents in a state that has been overwhelmed with need; in the last year alone, Massachusetts has seen its unemployment rate skyrocket to almost 8%.

From Lawrence to Worcester, Stoneham to Dorchester, almost 50 staff representing various government, non-profit and community-based agencies from the area traveled to Boston to participate in day filled with MoneyWi$e workshops. The sessions offered practical information, tips and hands-on activities designed to prepare staff to teach adults basic money management skills, respond to consumer questions and concerns regarding credit, and help those with damaged credit to move forward and rebuild their credit histories.

The meeting started with a warm welcome from Consumer Action’s Executive Director Ken McEldowney and Capital One’s Senior Director of Community Affairs Emily Talley. Describing the partnership and the MoneyWi$e program, Consumer Action’s Director of Outreach and Training, Mikael Wagner, shared with the audience some of the aspects that have made this partnership so successful and described what MoneyWi$e can offer to agencies committed to financial literacy.

MoneyWi$e, a financial literacy partnership between Consumer Action and Capital One, has been in existence for 8 years. Since 2001, the program has developed a user-friendly training curriculum with relevant, up-to-date content. MoneyWi$e offers a complete toolkit of 12 modules that include brochures, leader’s guides, presentations, exercises and evaluations.

Thousands of organizations from across the country have been trained on implementing this financial literacy program. With small grants administered by Consumer Action, thousands of agencies have also conducted workshops and one-on-one counseling sessions and have distributed educational materials at fairs and community events. Through a network of almost 10,000 community-based agencies, Consumer Action has been able to put millions of brochures and fact sheets into the hands of individual consumers.

After an overview of Consumer Action’s web resources and the MoneyWi$e website, Bert Davis, Senior Associate of National Volunteerism at Capital One, delved into the training intricacies which are the focus of the Teaching To Adults session. During his presentation, Davis offered tips for those just starting to facilitate sessions and engaged the audience in sharing best practices on a variety of teaching scenarios.

The next three training sessions focused on the MoneyWi$e modules that had been previously selected by the agencies and identified as top priority: Manage Your Money Wisely, Good Credit and Rebuilding Good Credit. Wagner and trainers Nelson Santiago and Sol Carbonell first walked the audience through each of the modules’ components. While reviewing the content and providing additional background information for trainers, including websites, videos and other resources, the trainers guided participants and offered a step by step introduction on how to present the MoneyWi$e information to adult learners.

Attendees completed a set of activities, such as the one available with the Rebuilding Good Credit module that allows individuals to compare secured credit card offers. They also evaluated different case profiles that portray various credit situations, and openly discussed how the activities can be used in classroom settings.

The MoneyWi$e training generated interest from media outlets Centro (WBZ-TV) and Encuentro Latino (Telemundo - Episode 104), which interviewed Consumer Action’s Sol Carbonell and broadcasted pictures of the event. Carbonell shared with viewers that the training was a great opportunity for agencies from the Greater Boston area to get practical tips, relevant information and a fantastic set of training materials that can assist staff to better meet the demands of their clients and help educate every individual that walks through their doors.

Carbonell explained during the television interviews that agencies represented at the MoneyWi$e training receive technical assistance to implement the MoneyWi$e program and are eligible to apply for a stipend grant. When asked what advice she would give to viewers devastated by the financial crisis and struggling to make ends meet, Carbonell said, “It is never too late to pick up the phone and ask for help. Consumer Action will continue to work with all of the agencies from the area that participated in our training to make sure they have the best resources to help you…You just have to make the phone call.”



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