United Way of Chattanooga

United Way Wins FINRA Grant
Funds Support Local Grassroots Financial Education Projects

United Way of Greater Chattanooga Uses National Grant to Support Local Grassroots Financial Education Projects

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation and United Way Worldwide (UWW) announced earlier this year that more than $1.8 million in grants was awarded 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.  Here in Chattanooga, United Way is part of this latest group of grantees, which marks the second year of this partnership.

United Way of Greater Chattanooga was awarded a $150,000, two-year grant to provide financial education training and support to the following:

  • staff and leadership of churches;
  • non-profit agencies and community partners;
  • low and moderate income individuals and families through financial assistance;
  • local non-profit agencies that sponsor "lunch and learn" sessions for their clients;
  • clients referred by 2-1-1 and partner non-profits who have received training to provide one-on-one debt reduction counseling and financial coaching; and
  • outlying rural counties as well as urban neighborhoods through targeted marketing efforts.

"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 to undertake projects to help identify best practices for providing working individuals, families and financially-stressed populations with the information they need to take action toward increasing their financial stability. These projects leverage strategic partnerships and successful existing programs, then 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.

Locally this project is recognized as CASH Chattanooga – Creating Assets, Savings and Hope.  CASH Chattanooga will help families and individuals increase their financial stability by improving financial literacy, increasing access to tax credits and income supports and helping with asset development. CASH is making this happen by providing financial literacy training to nonprofit, faith-based, and governmental organizations with the intent that they will be more knowledgeable and aware of financial literacy issues, best practices, and resources.  CASH trains leadership and staff of these organizations to work with their own clients and constituents, providing information, and directing those clients to community resources that can help, such as professional credit counseling.

CASH training sessions are open to any organization that provides services to people who may find themselves in stressful financial situations.  Trainings include a comprehensive, two-day workshop on the basics of financial literacy, as well as more in-depth explorations of related topics through a series of follow-up mini-sessions.  All trainings, plus collateral and other support material, are provided free of charge to participating organizations.

"United Way of Greater Chattanooga is working to create lasting changes that help families and individuals achieve financial and family stability that will allow them to independently care for themselves and their families," said Eva Dillard, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Chattanooga. "We are grateful that our partnership with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation will assist our partner programs in providing education and training to help area residents manage their finances and plan for their families’ future."

United Way of Greater Chattanooga is partnering with the Chattanooga Area Tennessee Saves Coalition, the University of Tennessee Hamilton County Extension, Consumer Credit Counseling Services (a program of the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults), United Way’s Center for Nonprofits and United Way's 2-1-1 to form the CASH Coalition. This Coalition is a community partnership of organizations committed to building stable lives through financial literacy.

“Financial education is critical to personal success,” said Linda Rath, Director of Consumer Credit Counseling Services, a program of the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults. “Too many people get trapped in debt because they are unaware of the effects of high interest rates and significant fees. Financial stress can affect anyone’s quality of life in relationships, work, and our physical and mental health.” 

“This coalition will allow us to expand our educational efforts and reach more people who are financially unstable,” said June Puett, University of Tennessee Extension Agent. “We’ve helped families and individuals develop the skills to better manage their resources for more than 100 years. Together we’ll empower community partners to transfer these skills to those struggling to manage their current resources.”

The financial literacy training sessions are currently scheduled at various organizations throughout October, November, December of 2011 and January 2012, for the staff and volunteers of nonprofit, governmental, and community-based organizations who serve financially-stressed populations. More will be scheduled throughout the rest of 2012. The theme of these currently scheduled sessions is “Taking Charge & Planning for Your Future” and “Money Defense: Protect Yourself,” presented by Ms. Rath with Consumer Credit Counseling Services and Ms. Puett with the University of Tennessee Hamilton County Extension. Also, in November, two FINRA mini-sessions covering consumer-specific topics will be offered – “Holiday Spending,” hosted at the UT Extension Office and “Avoid the Shock of High Electric Bills” at the Electric Power Board. In addition to hosting more workshops in 2012, the coalition plans to extend more outreach to rural and outlying communities.

Each session is free and open to all, but registration is required by contacting Sara Collier at saracollier@cnpchatt.org or calling 423-752-0329. If your organization is interested in hosting a FINRA workshop, contact Ms. Collier for more information. Individuals who need credit counseling can dial 2-1-1 for referral to the appropriate financial services.

United Way of Greater Chattanooga funds local programs that create opportunities for people to care for themselves and each other, making our community the best at helping people achieve their potential. Thanks to an endowment fund that covers all overhead and administrative expenses, all contributions (100 percent) go directly to services that help individuals and families in our area.

Call United Way at 423-752-0300 or go to www.LiveUnitedChattanooga.org for more information or to become involved.

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