Teach a Man to Fish: The Salvation Army's Financial Literacy Programs
As the recession continues, The Salvation Army has launched or expanded several programs to teach individuals how to manage personal and family finances. These money management programs reduce an individual's dependency on social service programs that provide housing, food, shelter, utilities and other basic needs. Some examples of this include:
In San Francisco, Pam Erwin, a Wells Fargo financial literacy expert, created a personal money management program called "Hands on Banking" (HOB) for Salvation Army clients. HOB is a bi-lingual course for kids, teens and adults with a curriculum specific for their age group. Depending on the individuals' age and experience, material covered in each course ranges from opening a bank account and balancing a checkbook to obtaining a loan and avoiding identity theft.
In Columbus, OH, the Career Enhancement Program helps clients improve employability and money management. The five-week training hosts up to 20 students a session, covering such topics as computer basics, financial literacy, career exploration, resume/cover letter development and interviewing. In addition, representatives from Consumer Credit Counseling Services offer financial literacy presentations to clients, covering topics like understanding credit and debt, and avoiding identity theft.
In Tamaqua, PA Salvation Army grant writer and program coordinator, Dina Depos offers a 13-week course titled "Financial Peace University" or FPU. The course incorporates money management lessons from financial expert Dave Ramsey who reports that on average, a family pays off $5,300 in debt and saves $2,700 in the first 91 days after beginning FPU. Four families participated in FPU this February and the Army will be hosting a second course this summer.
· Throughout The Salvation Army's Intermountain Division in Colorado, local Corps run several financial literacy classes. The Denver Red Shield, for example, offers a finance course called FUTURE for kids and teens, while the Lambuth Family Center in Denver teaches financial and life skills classes to families living in transitional housing.
"The Salvation Army believes in the ‘teach a man to fish' approach to social service - going beyond merely providing for the immediate needs of clients and building self-sufficiency over time," said Major George Hood, National Community Relations and Development Secretary. "Particularly during these economically challenging times, it is critically important to encourage sound money management habits to help people heat their homes, feed their families and save money."
With a number of financial literacy classes taking place regularly across the country, the Army is able to give thousands of people in need the tools necessary to get back on their feet during the economic downturn and beyond.