Financial Literacy Across the Life Span
The decline of the overall median income, high unemployment, community disasters, the mortgage foreclosure crisis, retirement planning with our aging population, and other financial challenges have caused Alabamians to take a closer look at their financial resources and their need to better understand financial matters. Last year Extension worked with thousands of individuals educating them on ways to overcome financial crises, manage resources and reduce debt, improve ability to handle opportunities and meet challenges at all stages of life, protect assets and personal identity, expand business enterprises, decrease stress, and improve financial well-being. Following are just a few examples of how ACES is helping Alabamians, with a special focus on limited-resource families and individuals.
Opportunity Help individuals avoid financial risks, indebtedness, and bankruptcy. Help accelerate economic growth and address economic concerns as Alabamians try to rebound from the recent economic crisis.
Impact Consumers Score with Credit in Check through Responsible Spending, an outreach of Extension urban educators, helped more than 478 limited-resource clients learn about checking accounts, family spending plans, credit management, credit ratings, and savings accounts. At the completion of the financial literacy training, 54 percent of participants knew how to obtain their credit scores, 44 percent understood the advantages and disadvantages of credit cards, and 42 percent planned to create a family spending plan.
Opportunity Assist potential first-time homeowners or homeowners at risk of foreclosure enact long- and short-term financial plans and make smart housing choices.
Impact The Smart Home Buying Foreclosure Prevention program and Realizing the American Dream workshops, conducted by Extension urban professionals in metropolitan areas of the state, helped 94 families learn more about credit, savings, budgeting, loss mitigation, home buying, and saving. Families and individuals were trained in prevention and buying strategies based on best practices for credit, lending, and planned spending.
Opportunity Offer job search solutions to individuals and families in Alabama’s struggling economy where unemployment rates are still greater than 9 percent.
Impact Promoting Readiness for Employment Possibilities (PREP), an Extension urban program, helps individuals improve job search skills. In the 2011 launch year, 387 participated in PREP programs and services where they developed or revised resumes, completed job applications, and learned to search for jobs online and participate in technology-driven interviews. To date, 11 individuals have reported finding employment as a result of the PREP program.
Opportunity Upgrade and uplift the state’s urban and nontraditional audiences' economic capacity by engaging youth in activities and training.
Impact In 2011, Welcome to the Real World offered more than 2,600 youth training opportunities to simulate economic deterioration and direction as well as training in career and education planning. As part of Extension’s urban educational outreach, the program stresses partnerships with local organizations and promotes family and community engagement in career and educational planning for future leaders.
Opportunity Help senior citizens, especially underserved older adults, families, and caregivers, with legal, health, and financial issues.
Impact Through the Successful Aging Initiative, Extension urban professionals made more than 9,000 face-to-face contacts and saved participating consumers more than $200,000 in combined legal and preventive health care savings.
Opportunity Educate youth and adults about the realities of budgeting, investing, entrepreneurship, personal finances, debt, savings, wealth building, and job hunting.
Impact ACES Reality Check is a financial education simulation that allows youth to experience the realities of budgeting in an interactive and enjoyable way. Extension conducted 118 simulations reaching 8,475 youth and 1,563 adults. In written evaluations, the majority of youth indicate that they understand the importance of making wise choices, budgeting, saving, and staying in school as a result of participating in the program. Youth Learning About Money Management combines the Reality Check simulation with seminars on budgeting, investing, entrepreneurship, and other financial management topics. Extension reached 180 youth through this program, which was supported by a $10,000 grant from the Alabama Securities Commission.
Impact Through the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), Extension educators train teachers to incorporate the NEFE High School Financial Education Curriculum. Focused on basic personal finance skills relevant to preteens, teens, and young adults, the curriculum is designed to lay a solid foundation for financial independence and future financial decisions. Five training sessions were conducted and 279 high school educators and volunteers were trained.
Impact Extension participated in America Saves during Alabama Saves Week, a yearly effort to increase awareness of the need to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth with a primary focus on taking financial action. Activities are conducted through partnerships with nonprofit organizations, companies, government agencies, educational institutions, religious institutions, community groups, and others.
Opportunity Help consumers become smarter shoppers.
Impact The Smart Food Shopper program helps consumers be better shoppers by making and sticking to shopping lists, using coupons, and looking for unit prices. More than 500 individuals participated in this program.
Also available is a print-friendly version of the ACES Stakeholder Report 2011: Financial Literacy Across the Life Span