WASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation and United Way Worldwide (UWW) have announced over $1.8 million in grants to 15 recipients as part of the Financial Education in Your Community initiative.
Financial Education in Your Community, which is administered jointly by United Way Worldwide and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, funds community-based financial education programs across the country, providing effective, unbiased financial education resources for hardworking individuals and families. The latest group of grantees marks the second year of this partnership, which awarded nearly $1.5 million to 12 grassroots projects in 2009.
"We are proud to partner with United Way to provide support for community-based innovators who are developing effective approaches to financial education that can be leveraged in communities across the country," said FINRA Foundation President John Gannon. "These local organizations have a unique ability to provide low- and middle-income Americans with the information and support they need to make sound financial decisions and save for their long-term financial security."
Two-year grants were competitively awarded to local United Ways and other non-profit community groups that will undertake projects to help identify best practices for providing working individuals and families with the information they need to take action toward increasing their financial stability. The projects leverage strategic partnerships and successful existing programs, and target a diverse group of clients from areas of the country that have been hit hard by the economy. In addition to funding, the Foundation is providing unbiased financial education materials and ongoing technical assistance.
"United Way is committed to creating systemic changes that help working individuals and families achieve greater financial stability and independence," said Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide. "We are pleased that our partnership with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation will continue to provide critical information and resources to help navigate today's challenging economic climate".
Grants were awarded to:
- Connecticut Association for Human Services, Hartford, Connecticut; $150,000; to partner with existing Volunteer Income Tax Assistance coalitions to provide access to financial education, financial coaching and asset building programs for 1,700 clients who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. The project will focus on neighborhoods in Fairfield, New Haven and Litchfield counties, where 40 percent or more of the population qualifies for the refundable tax credit.
- Green Mountain United Way, Montpelier, Vermont; $149,963; to mobilize CASH Coalition partners to create lasting change in the availability of financial education for the residents of six rural Vermont counties. Partners will conduct train-the-professional workshops for local social service agency staff, and provide a variety of workplace-based and publicly available financial education workshops. The project will be supported by a comprehensive social marketing campaign.
- Maine Centers for Women, Work & Community, Augusta, Maine; $125,000; to add modules on investing and retirement planning to their basic money management curriculum, integrate financial planning and investing skills as core competencies in their workforce development programs, and create more effective marketing and promotional tools to support their work.
- Montana State University Extension, Bozeman, Montana; $31,125; to provide an education series on basic money management, investments, retirement planning and estate planning for employees of MSU satellite campuses and other working Montanans. Sessions will be offered in-person in Bozeman, and as "live webinars" to rural host locations and individuals. Sessions will be archived online to accommodate viewing at times that are convenient for participants unable to attend the live webinars.
- Santa Cruz Community Ventures, Santa Cruz, California; $150,000; to collaborate with a coalition of local partners to expand the Economic Justice Project—a social service model integrating financial and consumer education with legal and other support services—to help 2,000 low- to moderate-income Hispanic adults improve their financial and economic prospects.
- Step Up Savannah, Savannah, Georgia; $150,000; to build on a successful pilot effort to integrate financial education classes at employer sites from the hospitality, healthcare, warehousing and government sectors, and to design a new referral system to steer individuals from employer programs to neighborhood Centers for Working Families for more individualized assistance.
- United Way of Miami Dade Center for Financial Stability, Miami, Florida; $150,000; to reach out to under-employed and un-employed individuals and families in Miami-Dade County through two South Florida Workforce offices, tax preparation sites and local schools. The program will provide cross-training for agency volunteers and staff to enable them to provide basic education for the families they serve, and the ability to refer clients to the Center for more comprehensive counseling and coaching.
- United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Detroit, Michigan; $138,600; to collaborate with the Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation to support a network of financial coaches working in low-income communities in and around Detroit to assist individual families with understanding and overcoming the barriers to building wealth.
- United Way of Chittenden County, South Burlington, Vermont; $143,594; to lead a coalition of community partners in developing and testing two on-site workplace-based financial and investor education programs at 18 sites. This project builds on an existing relationship with employers through the Working Bridges project, which develops and pilots innovative strategies to improve the retention, promotion and financial stability of their employees.
- United Way of Greater Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee; $150,000; to provide financial education training for the staff and leadership of churches, non-profit agencies and community partners that provide financial assistance to low and moderate income individuals and families, provide trainers for "lunch and learn" sessions sponsored by local non-profit agencies and their clients, provide one-on-one debt reduction counseling and financial coaching for clients referred by partner non-profits who have received training, and undertake marketing efforts to reach outlying rural counties as well as targeted urban neighborhoods.
- United Way of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri; $150,000; to collaborate with five service providers to develop a model for integrating financial education into services for homeless or near-homeless young adults, 16-24 years of age, who are either employed or have a stable source of income. One outcome of the project will be a report on lessons-learned and best practices that will be shared with other organizations that serve at-risk young people.
- United Way of Marion County, Ocala, Florida; $19,564; to conduct a two-year campaign to break down the barriers to participation in the Marion County Prosperity Campaign by Spanish-speaking residents in rural areas of the county. The project will emphasize free tax assistance for low-income Spanish-speaking clients and will provide Spanish-language Money Smart workshops. The project will be supported by a comprehensive social marketing campaign.
- United Way of Tampa Bay, Tampa, Florida; $45,000; to address the pervasive use of tax refund anticipation loans in two low-income neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay area through a combination of neighbor-to-neighbor outreach, classroom education, individualized financial coaching and a social marketing campaign.
- United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona; Tucson, Arizona; $115,851; to build on the success of its Prosperity Center model by helping communities provide financial coaching and asset-building opportunities for low-income individuals and families through a pilot Prosperity Neighborhoods program.
- United Way of West Central Mississippi; Vicksburg, Mississippi; $149,625; to partner with local community groups in the lower Delta region to design and provide a sustainable basic money management education program for low-income citizens.
United Way is a worldwide network in 40 countries and territories, including nearly 1,300 local organizations in the U.S. It advances the common good, creating opportunities for a better life for all by focusing on the three key building blocks of education, income and health. United Way recruits people and organizations who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change. For more information about United Way, please visit: LIVEUNITED.org.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing businesses in the United States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation. FINRA registers and educates industry participants, examines securities firms, writes and enforces rules and federal securities laws, educates the investing public and provides trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and registered firms. For more information, please visit www.finra.org.
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation is the largest foundation in the U.S. dedicated to investor education. Its mission is to provide investors with high quality, easily accessible information and tools to better understand the markets and the basic principles of saving and investing. To further this mission, the Foundation awards grants to fund educational programs and research aimed at segments of the investing public who could benefit from additional resources. Since inception, the FINRA Foundation has approved nearly $50 million in financial education and investor protection initiatives through a combination of grants and targeted projects.