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Seven Characteristics of Effective Financial Education Programs

There must be a clearly articulated mission, defining values, priorities and goals.

May 29, 2004

Companies that want to offer financial education for women--or employees in general--might want to consider the characteristics of successful programs identified by the nonprofit Institute for Socio-Financial Studies in Middleburg, Virginia.

    The institute developed a list of effective practices from its study of 90 companies and organizations. "For women’s programs, each dimension should be shaped both to attract and to meet the special needs of women participants," says Lois Vitt, the institute’s chair and founding director. The dimensions included in its report on financial literacy education nationwide are:

  • A clearly articulated mission, defining values, priorities and goals.

  • Targeted outreach.

  • Adequate resources to design a course, develop materials and train instructors.

  • Evaluation and follow-up to determine participants’ application of the education and to improve the course.

  • Accessibility. "In most cases, employees report that supervisors are very supportive of allowing time off to attend programs," the institute says.

  • Relevant curriculum, geared to participants’ level of literacy and sensitive to their cultural backgrounds.

  • Community partnering, such as enlisting the help of a commercial bank or mortgage banker to help design the course and supply teachers.

    The institute’s report, commissioned by the Fannie Mae Foundation, was issued before Weyerhaeuser began its women’s program. Even so, it lauded the company as one of six nationwide offering outstanding financial education. A summary of the report is at http://isfs.org/exec-summ.html.

Workforce Management, January 2005, p. 55 -- Subscribe Now!