Community Financial Literacy and Justice
NEDAP's Community Financial Literacy and Justice Course helps people build vital financial skills, as well as understand how the financial services system is structured and its implications for individuals and communities.
The curriculum introduces the potential benefits of having a bank or credit union account; how to create a budget and establish a credit history; and ultimately how to build assets for oneself, one's family, and one's community.
The curriculum emphasize people's rights and options, local resources, and ways to avoid fringe and predatory banking services that predominate in lower income communities and neighborhoods of color.
Course materials were designed and created by NEDAP, and are friendly, colorful, and accessible. Each session includes group exercises and discussions, as well as resource sections that provide further information on the topics covered in class.
NEDAP regularly tailors its curriculum to meet the needs of different organizations. We have, for example, tailored the course to address issues specific to seniors, immigrants, women, ex-prisoners and youth.
For more information, download NEDAP's Community Financial Literacy & Justice brochure, or see below.
NEDAP's Community Financial Literacy and Justice Course:
- Addresses financial justice issues faced by immigrants, seniors, youth, and others;
- Is available in English and Spanish (some sections are available in additional languages);
- Provides up-to-date information and neighborhood-specific resources to help people realize their economic rights;
- Engages participants in discussions about redlining, justice in the credit system, and predatory financial services, and can serve as a springboard to advocacy and organizing;
- Is colorful and graphically compelling, engages readers at a range of literacy levels, and includes highly participatory class modules; and
- May be adapted to meet the specific needs of each group that uses it.
NEDAP's curriculum includes nine sections, which can be taught in whole or in part. Each section is described briefly here:
- What is Money?
This session introduces participants to the curriculum and to the concepts of financial literacy and financial justice. An interactive exercise, "What is Money?", opens the session. Workshop partipants spend some time laying out their goals for the course, which they revisit in the final session.
- Banking Basics
In this session, participants learn about banks, credit unions, check cashers and other financial service providers. Exercises demonstrate how to compare fees and services, and group discussions tackle issues such as advantages and disadvantages to opening a bank account. Special attention is given to issues such as blocked or frozen accounts, "bounce" protection fees and other pitfalls to watch out for. This session also introduces the concept of redlining, and provides information about individuals' and communities' economic rights.
- What is Credit
This session defines credit and explains the basic concepts of lending and borrowing. In-class exercises illustrate how interest rates affect your finances, the dangers of the credit card minimum payment, and how to read a credit card application. The session ends with a discussion of justice in the credit system.
- Credit Reporting & Repair
Building on the previous session, this module describes credit reports and credit scores, how they are used, and what rights people have in the credit reporting system. Participants review a sample credit report and learn how to identify and correct errors. This session also warns people about problems associated with credit repair agencies, and provides information about what rights one has when facing debt collectors.
- Budget Concepts
The first of two budgeting sessions, this module takes participants through a "budgeting road map" that outlines the steps toward creating a budget. Through take-home exercises, participants track their spending for a fixed time, an exercise that will help them create a personalized budget in a later session. The session describes fixed and variable expenses, and ends with a group exercise on plugging spending leaks.
- Savings and Asset Building
This session provides information and resources to help participants set and work towards savings and asset-building goals. Participants learn about different savings and investment options, how interest works, the "Rule of 72," and potential benefits and drawbacks of both homeownership and renting. The session ends with group exercises that illustrate income and wealth inequality.
- Creating a Budget
This second budgeting session walks participants through creating a budget, based on their earlier work tracking their spending. Participants receive worksheets and guidance to help them assess their household's spending needs; set savings goals; and develop a realistic long term savings and spending plan.
- Protecting Assets and Avoiding Scams
This session provides critical information to participants about high-cost and predatory financial services -- including rent-to-own stores, payday loans, auto title pawn schemes, tax refund loans (aka "rapid refunds") and predatory mortgage loans. Participants learn about how these services work; how to avoid scams; and where to turn for safe, affordable loans and financial services.
- From Ideas to Action
This closing session engages participants in a discussion about the information and skills they have acquired during the course, and what kind of support they might need moving forward to meet their goals. Participants review the goals they articulated in the first session, and assess whether these have changed, what progress has been made, and what resources they will call on to stay on track.
For more information, or to request workshops, please contact us at (212) 680-5100 or via email at email@example.com.