Financial Literacy

"Have you ever had a credit card?"

A little while ago I had a chance to talk to folks from NEDAP about what kind of trainings and service referrals we could offer our clients. They suggested I begin by asking one or two simple questions during our intake process about our clients' histories and experiences using credit and financial products. Read More...

Nedap (Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project) is a great resource and advocacy organization that works to enhance financial justice in low-income communities and communities of color. They partner extensively with neighborhood associations and groups to provide in-depth training on financial literacy and develop coalitions to advocate against predatory financial practices. Check out their website for more information about the reports and trainings they have available as well as links to other New York and national organizations.

Don't miss this article from the New York Times a few weeks ago: Cash to Get By Is Still Pawnshop’s Stock in Trade. It's a long and mostly sympathetic profile of pawnshops as a neighborhood financial institution. This map (click here to enlarge) from the article shows that the largest concentration of pawnshops in New York City are in the South Bronx and Upper Manhattan. Notice the large clump around the Fordham Road area in the Bronx - the busiest retail commercial hub in the Borough.


Here's what Chris Pleasanton, coordinator of the Hartford Community Court had to say: "We have done a little bit here in Hartford in our occasional Lifeskills for Young Offenders (its usually dependent upon volunteers to teach it so we have to rely on their expertise). In the past we have taught sessions on how to buy a car and basic banking (why a 21% interest rate credit card isn't a good thing, etc.). These concepts were new to many of the participants and they reacted with interest.
Anonymous said…
Finding the "right" mix of financial counseling to clients can be
tricky. While we here in Harlem primarily focus on housing matters in
our court, we have nevertheless attempted to provide financial
counseling seminars to clients in the past. However, those seminars
have been poorly attended. The lesson that I think we've learned from
the attempt at this type of support is:

Seminars dealing with risky loans, lending practices, how to handle
foreclosures, getting a mortgage, building up a 401K, homeowners
empowerment, subprime lending practices are probably better suited to a
population that is at the middle to high income economic category, while
seminars dealing with job training, opening initial savings accounts,
and how to transition from government assisted financial assistance,
building credit history, alternatives to local check cashing stores
are more the subject matter for a population in extreme poverty. I
think a careful analysis of the target population is crucial to actually
maximize attendance of financial counseling seminars...and one must
decide the appropriate curriculum.

Ivan Deadrick
Harlem Community Justice Center
Danielle Stockweather, Midtown Community Court said…
The Midtown Community Court recently began offering Banking and Business for Vendors, a ten-day financial literacy and introduction to entrepreneurship program geared to guide illegal street vendors into legitimate and law-abiding economic opportunities. We actually
collaborated with the organization you referenced - NEDAP - to devise a relevant financial literacy curriculum for our immigrant vendor
population and includes topics on basic banking, remittances, budgeting, and credit. And to facilitate the micro-enterprise piece, we partnered up with another non-profit organization - Credit Where Credit is Due -
to review business planning, accounting, capital for micro-enterprise ventures, asset building, and marketing. Ultimately, we hope to educate them to make informed decisions to cease illegal or at-risk behaviors, and to achieve economic independence and stability for the future.