A Point In Time Survey: Because Everyone Counts

On January 29th, at 6:30pm we invite you to join Challenge Helena in the “point in time” survey in partnership with the United Way of Lewis and Clark Area. We will gather on the lower level of the Carroll College Commons (directions here), then disperse throughout assigned neighborhoods in Helena to conduct community canvasing on the night of January 29th. This effort is a part of a national campaign (learn more here). We will conduct a 15-20 question survey and make sure that “Everyone Counts.”

3 reasons we are doing this to address Homelessness:

  1. The Practical Reason: Because the total number of individuals and families that we count is directly connected to the amount of federal funding distributed. The federal government distributes funding to organizations in our state and community that work hard every day to alleviate poverty and homelessness. It is important that they receive the appropriate and adequate amount of funding to sustain and grow their work.
  2. The Philosophical Reason: Because the way that we define the problem determines the scope of our imagination for creative solutions. By conducting a comprehensive survey, we will be able to paint an increasingly realistic picture of the scope of homelessness in our community and contribute to the conversation locally and nationally about how we define homelessness and, in turn, imagine and implement solutions.
  3. The Real Reason: Because everyone counts. Volunteers matter because we can never have enough community champions to advocate for those experiencing homelessness. Most important, the people that we are seeking to count- veterans, children, families, men and women young and old – are part of our community and they matter.

Training is required; contact Penny Cope at 406-841-2846 or pcope@mt.gov to arrange training or with any questions.
www.challengehelena.org

 

Build financial education into your business plan

Happy New year!  We thought you’d be interested in the following article from American Banker magazine which shows that financial literacy is a key component in the success of a business. Overall, many banks are increasing financial education to bring in traditionally “unbanked or underbanked” consumers.

Read on, or find the article here.

Build financial education into your business plan

BankPlus CEO William Ray has seen firsthand how financial literacy training can transform unbanked, middle-class consumers into bankable ones. Since 2008, the Ridgeland, Miss.-based BankPlus has been offering low-interest loans of up $1,000 to cash-strapped, largely unbanked consumers who agree to open accounts at the bank and enroll in a three-hour seminar on money management. In all, more than 19,000 Mississippians have gone through BankPlus’ financial education program; roughly 14,500 have received one or two consumer loans from the bank; and perhaps, most important, roughly 80% of those borrowers still have savings or checking accounts at the bank. Some have even raised their credit scores enough to qualify for home loans.

Ray had expected that most of the borrowers would be in low-wage jobs, so he’s been surprised to find that many of them are police officers, school teachers or employed in other middle-class occupations. The so-called CreditPlus loans helped them get out of short-term debt, but it’s been the financial education that has taught these formerly unbanked consumers the importance of saving, paying bills on time and raising their credit scores.

CreditPlus “is not so much a low-income product as it is a moderate one,” says Ray. Many of the borrowers, he adds, “just never had any financial literacy training and got caught up in the payday lending habit.”

Of course, banks have long supported financial literacy programs like those offered through Junior Achievement, Operation Hope, and countless community organizations, partly to gain Community Reinvestment Act credit but also on the vague hope that the newly literate would become bank customers.

The success of BankPlus’ initiative confirms that committing to financial education can be good for business at a time when all banks are struggling to generate more revenue. Ray points out that CreditPlus clients have more than $4 million on deposit at the bank and several dozen have accounts with balances of more than $5,000.

Other banks, too, are ramping up financial education initiatives in hopes of bringing more unbanked or underbanked consumers into the mainstream. Bank of America has teamed up with the Khan Academy to develop a series of free online videos offering tips on things like how to get out of debt and building credit. Meanwhile, SunTrust Banks, First Horizon and Regions Financial are among more than a dozen banks that have opened or agreed to open financial education centers within their branches. The centers are run by the nonprofit Operation Hope and, according to its chairman, John Hope Bryant, they provide banks with a fresh opportunity to win over the unbanked.

Under its old model, Operation Hope offered financial education at a dozen stand-alone centers in low-income neighborhoods. Its new model is to put centers inside bank branches in all types of communities. The aim is to expand beyond the low-income consumers it had historically targeted, and reach out to those with moderate incomes who crave financial guidance but might be reluctant to seek it. “Nobody who is middle class wants to come to a Hope Center because that’s where poor people go,” says Bryant.

First Horizon recently opened a Hope center inside a branch in Memphis, Tenn., and CEO Bryan Jordan says it plans to add several more across the state. While the bank has long supported financial education, Jordan says the business case for setting up Hope centers in its branches is compelling. “If you take someone who is struggling and turn them into a business owner, whether they are a customer of ours or not, they are likely to be employing customers of ours,” Jordan says. “Or if it’s someone who now qualifies for a home loan, they will need to do some repairs, they’ll likely be [contracting] with a customer of ours. It all has a trickle-on effect.”

Kline, Alan. “Build Financial Education Into Your Business Plan.” American Banker|National/Regional. Source Media, 29 Dec. 2014. Web. 7 Jan. 2015.

Montana $aves $cavenger Hunt

Montana State University Extension is offering two Montana $aves $cavenger Hunts as a part of the America Saves program during 2014-2015.  The hunts are specifically designed for two age groups:  11-14 and 15-19.  Students will learn about the benefits saving and investing, how credit can be a friend for foe, and how to be in control of their money.

Students who complete the Montana $aves $cavenger Hunt are eligible for a drawing for one of 33 cash awards of $100 in each age group during America Saves week February 23-27, 2015. The 66 cash awards for Montana students are courtesy of generous sponsors.

The Montana $aves $cavenger Hunt can be used by teachers who want to incorporate learning about finances into their classes in family and consumer sciences, economics, math, or social studies.  The $cavenger Hunt could also be utilized as an extra credit opportunity for students to complete “after hours” at home or the local library.

Students have until February 20, 2015 to complete the 9 quizzes for the Montana $aves $cavenger HuntThe hunts do not have to be completed all at one time.

The Montana Saves Website has links to all the Montana $aves $cavenger Hunt materials: an invitation to students, posters for each age group, and a list of websites for all quizzes.

You are invited to review the Hunts to gain a better understanding of how this educational tool would be of benefit to youth.   The website for ages 11–14 (as of September 1, 2014). www.msuextension.org/montanasavesscavengerhunt1 The website for ages is 15–19 (as of September 1, 2014). www.msuextension.org/montanasavesscavengerhunt2   Please contact Marsha Goetting, MSU Extension, at goetting@montana.edu with questions.