50 Ways #30, Part 2 — Provide Financial Education


They brought cookies. Two representatives from a local bank came to our ESL ministry with cookies. They responded to an invitation to share how to open a checking account with the students. The students had asked for help with that.  Many lacked a bank account.  They operated in the alternative economy using check cashing services and payday lending.  Not the optimum way to do one’s banking.

So, many banks are eager to do outreach and share financial literacy materials.  And many literacy programs have taken advantage of these resources.   My first thought was to share this and encourage the use of financial literacy tools from banks as a way to meet students’ needs.  Then, I did a little research.  Just a little, but it was eye opening.

In an article last fall in the Atlantic Cities, Lisa Servon provided keen insight into why the poor use the alternative banking system.  See The Real Reason the Poor Go Without Bank Accounts.

Are check cashing services more expensive than using a bank where one has accounts?  Yes.

Is payday lending a scourge on the poor?  Yes.  But Dr. Servon helps us understand why the alternative banking system has traction.  As we seek to help our students better use their money, may we be more sensitive to their life situations.  Financial literacy resources are a good idea.  Let’s mix in more understanding of the life situations of those using the alternative banking system as we seek to help.

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50 Ways #30 — Offer specialized classes in computer proficiency and financial education

Focus on the word computer.  Expand thinking.  Think more as in broadband and computer.  We’ll get to financial education next time.

100 million Americans lack broadband at home.  Imagine that.  You are not among them.  If it’s sad (and it is) that many families lack books at home, consider life without computers.  Wait, don’t go down that road. They’re here to stay.  But consider the digital divide.  Homes lacking access to broadband often lack computers as well.  Children who lack access to computers and the internet at home are at a decided disadvantage with their peers.  Youth and adults seeking employment face a hurdle if they can’t access the internet at home.  Families in need of benefits such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamps) can’t enroll at home without a computer.  It’s a big disadvantage not to have a computer and broadband at home.

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Good news.  Today is Digital Learning Day.  You can learn more at DIGITAL LEARNING DAY.

And you can help persons in your community cross the digital divide via a new program known as Everyone On.  See EVERYONE ON.  Help is available for those lacking technical expertise, and there are programs to assist low-income individuals with internet at reduced costs and refurbished computers.

Add computer literacy to your literacy ministry portfolio.  ESL students can extend their learning via helpful websites at home.  So many applications . . . what will you do?