Mini-grants to financially educate underserved consumers

Consumer Action awarded mini-grants to six community agencies that were trained on or have been using our Checking and Savings Accounts module.
Published: Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Checking and Savings Accounts module, trainings and mini-grants were made possible by the generous support of the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment .

Each group received a $5,000 Rose mini-grant to conduct banking education using the module. Grantees are required to provide financial education to 10 to 15 clients for a five-month period and to track individual client progress during that time. Agencies are also required to document program outcomes in a midterm and final report and to share success stories with Consumer Action.

The agencies selected have demonstrated successful use of Consumer Action’s curricula when providing innovative education programs to diverse groups, including low-income families, immigrants, veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, people with low literacy skills, faith-based communities, teens and formerly incarcerated (re-entry) clients. The agencies will reach consumers in a variety of settings, including workshops, trainings and direct face-to-face counseling.

The grantees selected are: Easter Seals Central Texas; Empowering Students and Parents, Inc. of Glenwood, MD; HOPES Community Action Partnership, Inc. (HOPES) of Hoboken, NJ; Opportunities Industrialization Center of Washington, DC (OIC/DC); Opportunities Industrialization Center of Ouachita, Inc. (OIC), located in Monroe, LA; and Zoe Life Fellowship Center (ZLFC), located in Riverside, CA.

For over 73 years, Easter Seals Central Texas (ESCT) has offered a continuum of support for people with disabilities and their families at all stages of life. Programs and services include: community and housing services, early childhood intervention, comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation, workforce development, employment services and tenant-based rental assistance. ESCT will use the mini-grant to establish a more in-depth training program to meet the needs of rental assistance participants who lack checking and savings accounts.

Empowering Students and Parents, Inc. (ESAP) is a non-profit that provides a system of relevant opportunities that make a positive difference in the lives of children and adults within the community. A key program that ESAP offers is its reentry consortium. The consortium provides direct and referral services to formerly incarcerated men and women of the Baltimore metropolitan area. Some services include: job fairs for individuals with criminal records; group and one-on-one financial education for reentry clients; and training workshops for community leaders using Consumer Action publications. The consortium will use the mini-grant to offer biweekly classes, plan field trips to local banks to establish bank accounts, and provide one-on-one assistance if needed.

HOPES Community Action Partnership, Inc. (HOPES) is a 50-year old agency with a mission to provide services that address the social, educational and training needs of individuals. HOPES works to help clients fight the causes of poverty and overcome barriers to success. Services offered include: early childhood education; youth afterschool and summer enrichment; community education; senior assisted transportation and information and assistance; health, nutrition and wellness; utility bill assistance and financial education, including financial literacy; volunteer income tax assistance (VITA); and assets for independence (AFI) individual development accounts (IDAs). HOPES will utilize the mini-grant in their financial education program.

Opportunities Industrialization Center of Washington, DC (OIC/DC) is a non-profit with 49 years of experience providing job training and placement services for youth and adults. The organization works as a contractor with federal and District of Columbia government agencies and the private sector. Key services include: financial literacy, occupational skills training, job development, and case management and wraparound services. OIC/DC plans to use the mini-grant with its financial literacy program in order to educate unbanked and underbanked consumers on how to establish and maintain checking and savings accounts and how to use bank and credit union services rather than alternative financial services.

Opportunities Industrialization Center of Ouachita, Inc. (OIC) is a non-profit organization that has been in existence for 40 years. The mission of the organization is to educate, train and secure employment for persons who are economically or socially disadvantaged, thus enabling them to lead productive, self-supportive lives. OIC will use the mini-grant to educate consumers participating in its existing banking education program.

Zoe Life Fellowship Center (ZLFC) is a non-profit faith-based organization that seeks to minister to people in all aspects of their lives: faith, family, finances and fitness. The majority of their parishioners are underserved. They offer eight- to 10-week training sessions on a variety of topics including financial management, budgeting, stress management and time management. ZLFC plans to use the mini-grant to host a biweekly banking training session and meet-ups at a local bank and credit union in order to help consumers understand the full spectrum of services they offer.




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