MoneyWi$e a crucial tool in battling unemployment

Published: Thursday, July 09, 2009

Opportunities Industrialization Center in Washington, DC is using Consumer Action's MoneyWi$e Financial Education Program to teach residents of the District of Columbia how to weather financial crises. MoneyWi$e is a financial management curricula developed by Consumer Action in partnership with Capital One Bank.

Battling a skyrocketing unemployment rate, which reached 9.5% in June, organizations on the front lines of the nation’s dismal job market are using MoneyWi$e to teach their clients financial survival skills. Unemployment among African Americans and Latinos has climbed even higher, 14.7% and 12.2%, respectively.

The Opportunities Industrialization Center in Washington, DC (OIC/DC) is one such organization that is using Consumer Action’s MoneyWi$e Financial Education Program to teach residents of the District of Colombia how to weather financial crises. OIC/DC’s mission is to provide quality job training and related educational programs, such as money management workshops, for adults and youth. The staff of OIC/DC is using the MoneyWi$e curriculum to educate the residents of Ward 8, an area with the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the District. Between June and November of last year, OIC/DC conducted 31 MoneyWi$e financial workshops and distributed over 1,300 MoneyWise brochures. MoneyWi$e's Saving to Build Wealth, Improve Your Credit and Talking to Teens About Money presentations prompted the greatest interest and had the highest rate of attendance.

The profiles below, provided by the staff of OIC/DC, illustrate how impactful the financial information and resources available through the MoneyWi$e Financial Education Program can be when they reach those who need it most.

  • Ms. C is a 23-year-old who enlisted in the Armed Forces but left after several months when she could not pass a mandatory long-distance running test. She was living with an older sister and her family, and was very unhappy with this arrangement. She wanted to find employment that would allow her to move out and into her own apartment. Prior to coming to OIC/DC, Ms.C had little success in her job search efforts. She enrolled into OIC/DC’s Opportunities Family Assistance Club (OFAC) program and attended a number of MoneyWi$e workshops. Ms. C finally found employment and recently secured her own apartment. She attributes the knowledge she gained in the workshops with helping her to save and manage the money she needed to take control of her life.
  • Ms. D is a 30-year-old who is married and has a nine-month-old child. When she made contact with OIC/DC, she stated that she and her family were living in a very small apartment and needed more living space. Rather than move into another apartment, they wanted to purchase their first home but didn’t know how to go about doing it. Both she and her husband attended the MoneyWi$e workshops on a regular basis. The workshop they found most helpful was Consumer Action’s Buying a Home. The workshops helped them understand the process of buying a home in a clear and manageable way. They now are saving money and believe they can purchase a home in one year. Ms.D stated that attending these workshops has turned the dream of obtaining a home for her family into a reality!
  • Mr. A is a 37-year-old who had been incarcerated for several years and was trying to get back into the job market. He lived with his mother and wanted employment so that he could contribute to the household. After completing the Opportunities Family Assistance Club program, including orientation and job readiness workshops, Mr. A received assistance from the OIC/DC staff in obtaining a job with Giant Supermarket. He also attended several MoneyWi$e workshops that gave him more confidence and knowledge in handling his finances. He stated that workshops on Banking Basics helped him appreciate the benefits of opening a bank account, rather than using check-cashing companies. Mr. A also says he feels more in control of his life and is no longer a victim.

    *names changed

The MoneyWi$e Financial Educational Program is being successfully implemented by grassroots organizations across the nation. Linda Williams, Consumer Action Community Outreach Manager, trained and assisted the staff of OIC/DC in implementing MoneyWiSe into their program. For more information on MoneyWi$e, please contact Linda J. Williams at (213) 624-4631 or via email at [email protected].

 
 
 

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