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Use Money Smart Week to expand your outreach

Is your credit union looking for ways to improve your outreach to new markets? Then use the opportunity presented by Money Smart Week in April to financially educate specific groups who may need your help the most. All lessons should be purely informational and refrain from promoting products or services or opening new accounts.Image


Money Smart Week will take place April 5-12, 2014. Credit unions are invited to sign up and participate as program partners. Partners can use any of the resources in the Partner Kit.


"The challenge for credit unions is to provide the ‘just in time’ help that financially underserved populations need despite barriers to participation like a lack of transportation, available child care, or long work hours," says Chad Helminak, Vice President of Development for the League.

"This initiative is a tremendous opportunity, for example, to reach out to Hispanics, students, single parents, and young working families in their prime borrowing years who need guidance to budget well, use credit wisely and avoid financial predators."

He adds that credit unions needn’t create new presentations but rather focus on outreach – being creative to offer existing classes, information or skill-building opportunities to groups for whom time and access may present challenges. He suggests credit unions:


  • Make participation easy. Send presenters to venues offering a ready audience: the classroom, workplace, Latino community centers or other unique venues.


  • Address diverse financial needs. Tailor presentations for learners with specific needs: single parents looking for affordable day care, low-income families in need of reliable transportation, blended families managing new responsibilities, recent graduates with large debt loads, young workers new to paychecks and budgeting, and newly-single people starting over, for example.


  • Set schedules to maximize participation. Consider morning, lunch-time, evening or weekend classes to accommodate varied work schedules. Don’t overlook online options or everyday opportunities for interaction – such as through your call center, drive-ups or teller lines.


"Put yourself in the shoes of someone just starting out who may be struggling, but with the right guidance can overcome significant challenges," Helminak says. "Collectively, this effort can begin to put thousands of families on a positive path to financial stability and wealth-building."

He suggests credit unions review the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard for Wisconsin, compiled by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, to stimulate their thinking on unique educational needs and participation barriers many groups face.


Money Smart Week Wisconsin is a joint effort by hundreds of partner organizations in the state that concentrate financial learning opportunities during a single week but also offer additional opportunities throughout the month. Opportunities can target any ethnicity or age group. It offers credit unions a way to broaden their educational outreach and capitalize on publicity and promotion backed by multiple partners in a particular area.


Money Smart Week began in 2002 as an effort of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Since then, successful campaigns have been held in more than a dozen states and clusters of individual events and activities have been held in additional states. National partnerships with the American Library Association and the Financial Planners Association have helped accelerate the effort's growth.




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