Principle Five: Education, training, and information. Credit unions provide financial education to their members as well as the communities they serve.
(Editor's note: Betty Ann Falkner, the director of the Center for Smart Financial Choices, recapped the Center's eventful 2014 in an email to members and supporters this week. The following highlights from Falkner's email are provided below.)
The goal of the Center for Smart Financial Choices for 2014 was to raise awareness of their programs and services to Forsyth County residents. We would like to share the progress that was made this year and the impact it had on participants.
The Center delivered thirty-four presentations to over 1,121 youth in local elementary, high school and summer programs in 2014. The most popular program, Adult for A Day (AFAD), helps high school students explore the importance of making smart financial choices in managing a budget while learning how credit scores affect their expenses.
Over one hundred Vienna Dozier Elementary fifth grade students participated in the elementary version of AFAD to learn how a budget works. “The Center for Smart Financial Choices program taught me a lot about the money saving decisions that our parents and other adults have to make every day," said Cameron, an AFAD student who is a fifth-grader at Vienna Dozier.
"It also showed me that a lot of the decisions that have to be made are not easy. I learned that what type of insurance, the cost of utilities, clothes, and your home is very important. I also learned about all the responsibilities that adults have to have to be successful. This program will help me become a better adult and be more aware of my responsibilities," Cameron concluded.
The Center also educated young people through several field trips, which gave students a closer look at the banking system and how it works. “The time that I spent at the CFSFC field trip was very informative and fun," said Omiah. "I learned things that I didn't know before like how much technology has involved and helped the banking system, how many people it takes to run one bank, how much security cautions a bank has to take, and also how easy it is to set up an account. After the trip I talked to my mother about what I had learned and we had planned out my banking options for me in the future. Overall I think the trip and opportunity was both extremely fun and educational.”
Financial education scholarships
The Center received a donation for a unique scholarship program that incorporates financial education as part of the criteria for the award. A total of $5,500 was awarded to the following recipients:
- Bibiana Arroyo, student at Early College of Davie County, received the $2,500 scholarship for Hispanic/Latino youth.
- Sarah Williams, a Forsyth County resident, was awarded the $1,500 scholarship for any adult looking to further their education.
- Josephine Hill, a Reynolds High School senior, won a $1,500 youth scholarship.
Adult programs and presentations
The Center worked with many non-profits groups this year, including Goodwill, Circles of Winston Salem, Relatives as Professional Parents (RAPP), Sunnyside Ministries and the Enterprise Center. Forty-four workshops were held with over 520 individuals reached.
Included in this is the Journey Program through the Center's partnership with Goodwill. In 2014, twelve Goodwill employees graduated from a 15 week program that includes financial education and individual financial consulting.
The Center also completed a series of workshops titled Only Way to Go at the Prosperity Center North, which served over eighty individuals. The program successfully combined work readiness, financial education, empowerment and motivation skills for the participants.
“This course showed me there were lots of places I needed to improve," shared Nancy, who completed the program. "I thought I had it together until I found out how many spending leaks I had. I found I was wasting money eating out even though I love to cook. At the time I took the Only Way to Go program, I was homeless, a situation I had never been in before. I found a job during the time I was taking the course, as a Certified Nursing Assistant and I am still employed seven months later. I also recently moved into my own new apartment."
The Center depends on its volunteers to assist in delivering its programs. Volunteers logged over 1,500 hours supporting the Center in 2014. Currently, the Center has over forty volunteers and more are needed to work with school children and teens during the day.
Betty Ann was involved in the creation of the Center for Smart Financial Choices in 2011. Betty Ann volunteered to serve as Interim Director while working full-time as an Executive Assistant to the CEO of a Winston Salem, NC credit union. Betty Ann is passionate about helping people by providing financial education, giving them choices and assisting them to change their behaviors.
Betty Ann’s previous business experience includes working as a consultant to a variety of non-profit boards and running her own small business. This non-profit background enabled her to qualify to manage the Center and help accomplish its mission ‘to empower all individuals to achieve financial wellness through all stages of life’.
As a teenager, she volunteered to help students learn to read, helped raise her five brothers and sisters and eventually became the mother of five children. Teaching her siblings and children reinforced her desire to educate young people. Prior to moving to North Carolina in 2006, Falkner served as the Columbia-Greene Workforce Investment Board Director for six years and was very active with their Youth Council. Betty Ann believes that learning should be fun, a part of everyday life and continue for a lifetime.