Wednesday, February 6, 2013
A $99,990 grant will allow the Georgetown County Library to provide financial education programs for the county’s poorest residents.
“We’re trying to combat the root causes of poverty,” said Dwight McInvaill, county library director. “It’s a wonderful grant. We’re very excited.”
It’s the second time in three years the library has gotten a grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Money from the last grant was used for financial education programs, like the Smart Investing program, for the entire community.
Seminar topics will include: financial goal setting, managing credit and debt, household budgeting, saving for emergencies, recovering from bad credit, preparing to invest, and using personal finance resources available through the library. One point of emphasis will be to help parents, grandparents and caregivers teach children how to use good financial practices.
McInvaill said there are county residents who need help with something as basic as opening and maintaining a bank account. Financial knowledge will also help people avoid getting scammed. In order to better target residents who would benefit from financial education, the library is teaming up with the Georgetown County Human Services Collaborative, a group of more than 50 nonprofits that are working together to combat poverty.
The Human Services Collaborative was founded will the encouragement of the Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation to increase nonprofits’ efficiency and avoid a duplication of services.
“Financial education is key to helping people move out of poverty,” said Geales Sands, executive director of the Bunnelle Foundation. “The grant can make huge inroads into that kind of financial education.”
McInvaill said a lot of the people who seek help from the nonprofits in the Human Services Collaborative are required to take financial education classes so it was logical to team up. Heather Pelham, the library’s public services librarian, is in charge of the “day-to-day details” of the grant, McInvaill said. Pelham met with representatives of the Human Services Collaborative on Tuesday to beginning planning programs.
One of the best parts of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority grants is their flexibility.
McInvaill said the library used some of the money from the last grant for investment planning seminars. Because of the recession, there was not a lot of interest in the seminars, so they were canceled and the library used the money for financial books and financial e-books for library branches, and community events. One community event attracted 900 people.
“If something’s not working you can shift gears,” McInvaill said. “The Smart Investing programs that have been conducted through our library system have been extremely popular and successful,” said County Administrator Sel Hemingway. “This FINRA grant will allow us to expand these programs and reach out to more of our citizens.”
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the largest independent regulator for securities firms doing business in the United States, awarded $1.12 million in grants this year. The program has awarded $7 million in the last six years. Grant money comes from fines levied against companies. The other libraries that received grants this year are located in Bridgeport and Hartford, Ct.; Estes Valley, Colo.; Fayetteville, Ark.; Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala.; Cincinnati and Port Clinton, Ohio; Portland, Ore.; Troy and Niles, Mich.; St. Louis, Mo.; and San Diego, Calif.
By Chris Sokoloski
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