In 2003, and every year since, Federal legislators have deemed April as financial literacy month. It’s a time of the year when non-profits, government agencies, schools, and businesses increase their efforts to reiterate financial knowledge's positive benefits.
Research shows that learning critical financial skills at a younger age can affect one's entire life trajectory. Poor financial decisions can undermine a person’s ability to get out of debt, buy a home, provide for a family, and can even lead to stress-related health problems.
While all Americans need to manage their finances, African Americans lag in financial literacy. A study published by the TIAA Institute and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center found that African Americans’ financial knowledge is lower than whites in all but one area: comprehending risk. According to another study, Black Americans also have a significantly lower opportunity for upward economic mobility than white Americans— regardless of family statuses, such as marriage or a single-parent household. Given the direct correlation between financial literacy and financial wellness, it’s not surprising, but provides further proof that this is a severe problem that must be addressed.
Fortunately, there are available resources. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) are in a unique position to take advantage of these resources. In fact, The HBCU Community Action Development Coalition (CDAC), with Wells Fargo Foundation's support, has launched a program focused on HBCU/MSI institutions, students, and t communities that surround their campuses. . Here’s how OMM will work for each of those constituencies:
1. University Administrators and Faculty
HBCU and MSI schools have access to an extensive library of online financial education courses through a state-of-the-art platform that provides a personalized financial wellness curriculum for students. Thousands of articles, videos, infographics, and resources are included, centered around popular financial topics. The online platform utilizes adaptive learning technology to tailor the experience to each student’s individual needs automatically. Designed to teach students financial acumen, each school platform is branded to match the school's look and feel and highlight its unique value proposition.
Students have their own customized experience with content, tools, and resources relevant to their unique situation. Using adaptive learning technology, the experience is tailored to them and what they want to learn. For example, they might be a first-year student with credit card debt and need to create a budget, or they may be about to graduate from school and have to pay back their student loans soon. They can access free tools and resources within their profile page to help them get on track (and stay on track) with a specific financial plan.
3. Community Residents and Organizations
For community organizations or residents that live around an HBCU/MSI campus, free resources are available to help individuals get on the path to financial wellness. Through a combination of adaptive learning technology and access to thousands of videos, articles, and other tools, the experience is tailored to ensure the user receives the most benefit from the program. So, whether it’s learning how to get out of debt, buying a first home, or saving for retirement, we can offer a customized experience. Local community organizations such as churches or non-profits can also provide Our Money Matters to their members and take advantage of online and offline resources.
In addition to the online tools, there is a service suite of resources on campuses and in surrounding communities. These services include access to food pantries to address food insecurity as well as career closets, which provide participants with access to appropriate work attire. The OMM program will support 25 schools, serving 50,000 students and community members.
Ron Butler, CEO of HBCU CDAC, summarizes, “Addressing economic equity is a crucial part of achieving racial equity. Now is the time to support students attending HBCU’s and MSI’s. Our partnership with the Wells Fargo Foundation demonstrates our aligned interest in equipping our partner institutions and their surrounding communities with the financial tools needed to create wealth for generations to come.”
To read more HBCU CDAC Blogs, click here.