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TMCU Makes Financial Literacy a Family Affair

STATE FARM SUPPORTS AWARD-WINNNG PROGRAM TEACHING FINANCIAL LITERACY

GREENVILLE, SC – May 14, 2015  The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, Greenville County Human Relations Commission, and the Hispanic Alliance are pleased to recognize support from State Farm for the collaborative, award-winning Finances for the Family program.  State Farm is awarding grants to all three organizations this year to support their respective missions and programs, and particularly the “Finances for the Family” program.

Finances for the Family is a multi-dimensional whole-family financial literacy education program for low-income families with children. The project serves families through a series of five program sessions, which include financial education workshops for adults; age-appropriate, standards-based financial literacy education for children (elementary through middle school); hands-on learning simulations allowing children to put what they have learned into practice using TCMU exhibits; and ongoing evaluation and assessment of skills gained and lessons learned by all program participants.

“Supporting the Finances for the Family program is a win-win for State Farm.  We have been supporting these organizations independently and are continually impressed with the high level of service and programming they provide the community.  The Finances for the Family program is a perfect fit with State Farm’s Good Neighbor Citizenship® Company Grants program, which aims to support programs that promote basic economics, budget counseling, first time homeownership, and foreclosure prevention,” said Sarah Clem, State Farm Public Affairs Specialist.

According to the most recent census figures, about 15% of Greenville County’s residents live in poverty. Of those, 22% have children under the age of 5. Many of these poor families are trapped in a cycle of low educational attainment, under-employment, and poor credit. They are the targets of “payday” lenders, and don’t have access to mainstream financial institutions. They need targeted intervention to move themselves and their families from a culture of borrowing to a culture of saving, get out of debt, and improve their long-term economic prospects.
In response to this need, United Way of Greenville and other leading community institutions have identified “Financial Stability” as a key focus area for programming and investment. The Greenville County Human Relations Commission is a key part of a network of providers of financial education services to low-income families in Greenville. Discussions about potential collaborative projects with TCMU helped identify an important need among the families the Human Relations Commission served: TCMU would provide an ideal venue to more deeply engage families with small children, particularly those that might have difficulty securing childcare for an evening or weekend class, or who were eager to educate their children at a young age about the importance of making smart financial decisions and distinguishing between “wants” and “needs.”

Nancy Halverson, Children’s Museum President and CEO, said, “Our role as a community anchor is to work collaboratively with partners like GCHRC and Hispanic Alliance to address community needs like financial stability.  Our world-class facility and trained educators are a valuable community resource that can tackle many critical community issues.  Research shows that the model of educating the entire family and providing a forum for families to have those crucial conversations together is key to creating systemic change within the family.  We are dedicated to using proven best practices in all of our programming to benefit families in the Upstate, and we are grateful for State Farm’s recognition and support of Finances for the Family.”

Finances for the Family launched in October 2014 with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  Now in its third program session, TCMU and GCHRC have partnered with the Hispanic Alliance to offer the program in Spanish.  On May 14, seventeen families will graduate and receive a host of special perks and ongoing support.  With assistance from GCHRC, a savings account for each family and for each child will be opened, and $20 will be deposited in each child’s savings account.  GCHRC will enroll each family in the free credit counseling services they provide.  And, as one mom said, the best perk is that each family receives a free Museum membership!  After six months, all of the families are invited to participate in a follow up interview.  When that interview is complete, all benefits are renewed for an additional six months.

“We designed the program to have extensive follow up intentionally, so that we continue to support the families as they make lasting changes in their households.  Preliminary evaluation of the program conducted by Dr. Brooke Culclasure indicates that families are changing the way that they budget and make household purchasing decisions.  They are increasing their savings and their overall financial stability.  We are thrilled to report such outstanding results in the first year of the program, and we are grateful for State Farm’s financial support,” said Yvonne Ducker, GCHRC Executive Director.

Adela Mendoza, Hispanic Alliance Executive Director, said, “The Hispanic Alliance is glad to partner with TCMU, GCHRC, and State Farm to provide Finances for the Family to Hispanic families in the Upstate.  This program is a wonderful opportunity to support Hispanic families and introduce them to the wonderful resources that GCHRC and TCMU provide families in our community.”

A recent program graduate summed up the experience of completing the program with her children by saying, “This class is empowering to myself and my children.  Before this class, I spent out of control.  Now, my kids are saving towards their future and their personal goals, and I have a plan for an emergency.  Finances for the Family gave my family hope for our financial future by showing us how to live on a budget that is realistic.  This program helped us understand what we could achieve if we just save, curb our spending, and make better financial choices.”

State Farm joins a growing list of national funders who are supporting Finances for the Family, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Association of Children’s Museums, who awarded the program a MetLife Promising Practice Award Reimagined grant in 2014.

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