Use Money Smart Week to expand your
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.
Money Smart Week will take place April 20-27,
2013. Credit unions are invited to sign up and participate as program partners. Partners can use any of the
resources in the Partner
"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, Director of REAL Solutions &
Outreach 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 in nearly forty states.
National partnerships with the American Library Association and the
Financial Planners Association have helped accelerate the effort's
In Wisconsin the event has grown to include 154 partner organizations
offering more than 335 presentations benefiting upwards of 7,772 state
citizens. The event's national annual report, which highlights
Wisconsin, is available online.