Teaching the teachers

UCI and Wells Fargo team up to teach 21st century financial literacy skills to non-profits that serve the underserved

The way people earn, save and spend money is changing, says UCI anthropology and law professor Bill Maurer - but financial literacy education has failed to keep pace. With a $100,000 gift from Wells Fargo, he's hoping to change that.

"Secure a salaried job. Save earnings in the bank. Buy a home. This used to be the recipe for achieving the 'American Dream,' but times are changing," says Maurer who also directs the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion (IMTFI) at UCI. Nearly half of working Americans report having a side hustle to help make ends meet. Roughly the same number are estimated to be credit invisible – meaning they lack credit scores or are unscorable due to limited information about their financial habits, preventing access to quality credit essential for buying a home. And in Orange County, home ownership is increasingly out of reach for first time buyers as available supply tends to favor the wealthy.

With this in mind, Maurer and UCI anthropology graduate student Nandita Badami convened a workshop in June targeting Orange County non-profit organizations that serve low-income housing residents, undocumented workers, and survivors of domestic abuse. Through interactive discussions, presentations and games, participants learned new approaches for incorporating 21st century financial literacy skills into resources for their communities.

Presenters included the National Endowment for Financial Education, Next Gen Personal Finance, Brain Arts Production and others. They shared online tools, strategies and resources on everything from budgeting – via an interactive grocery shopping experience – to home buying simulations.

"It's really important that those in our communities serving populations in need of these resources have access to the latest pedagogical tools and research in the field so that they can better serve their constituents," says Badami.

Livi Kerszenbaum, associate director of income and place-based initiatives at Orange County United Way, attended the June workshop.

"We had the opportunities to learn from experts in our field and to connect with others working in Orange County's financial stability community," she says. "Our day-to-day activities are so busy that attending gatherings such as this one is important. These conferences provide the time and space to focus on learning about the most recent financial trends and to expand the tools we have to better serve our clients."

The 60 people in attendance representing 29 non-profits are now in the process of submitting plans for new – or bolstered existing - financial education programs and initiatives within their organizations. Maurer and team will review and provide expert feedback to help shape the projects to most effectively serve community needs.


Read the full news announcement here: https://www.socsci.uci.edu/newsevents/news/2019/2019-07-23-financial-literacy.php

Read a summary blogpost of the event: "Tools for Financial Literacy @ UCI"

Access additional open access online educational and research resources visit: https://sites.google.com/uci.edu/toolsforfinlit

April 2020 Final Report: Addressing Financial Literacy in Orange County, California: Understanding the Need and Supporting the Service Providers

October 2020 Report: COVID-19 Relief Payments in the US and CA: Overview, Barriers to Access, and Ways Forward to Aid Families in Need



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