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Michigan’s Building Your Financial Future Program. Aimee Sterk, MSW, Program Manager, Michigan Disability Rights Coalition (616) 797-9769 aimee@prosynergy.org Adeline Metzler, EVP, Option 1 Credit Union (517) 319-1300 adeline.metzler@fhcu.org Leah March, Loan Fund Manager

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Michigan s building your financial future program l.jpg

Michigan’s Building Your Financial Future Program

Aimee Sterk, MSW, Program Manager,

Michigan Disability Rights Coalition

(616) 797-9769


Adeline Metzler, EVP,

Option 1 Credit Union

(517) 319-1300


Leah March, Loan Fund Manager

UCP of Michigan

(800) 828-2714


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The Partners

  • Option 1 Credit Union (formerly Financial Health Credit Union)

  • Michigan Disability Rights Coalition

  • United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan

  • 10 sites around the State of Michigan

  • Michigan State University Extension

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The Model

  • AT Loan Fund Program Component

  • Now in second year of the program

    • First year focused on English-Speaking adults with disabilities only

  • Grant from National Credit Union Foundation

    • The Executive Summary from the successful grant application for this year is in your packet

  • Train-the-trainer focus at state level with implementation at local levels

  • Contract with local sites around the state that provide the training to people with disabilities in their area

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The Model Continued

  • Local sites (mostly CILs and AT Loan Fund sites) choose two of three possible populations to teach:

    • Adults with disabilities

    • Spanish-speaking adults with disabilities

    • Youth with disabilities (includes a Reality Store component)

  • Local sites apply to participate

    • The application information is in your packet

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Relationship to the Loan Funds

  • Grew out of a need identified by the loan committee

  • All loan fund applicants receive a flyer about the classes

  • Loan fund applicants that are denied due to credit are informed of the classes

  • Class attendees receive flyers about the loan funds

  • Loan fund website links to information about Building Your Financial Future

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The Curriculum—Adults

  • Money Smart Curriculum from the FDIC as adapted by credit unions (free for the public to use)

    • Our revised version of the curriculum in the accessible format to which we converted it: http://www.prosynergy.org/ncuf/index.htm

    • This is also available in Spanish and several other languages

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Financial Service Institutions

Credit Unions


Check Cashing Services

Types of Loans

Checking Accounts



Keeping financial information safe and identity theft

Credit Reports and basics of repair

Credit Cards and credit scams


The Curriculum—Adults Topics Covered

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The Curriculum—Youth

  • National Endowment for Financial Education High School Financial Planning Program (free for the public to use)

    • http://www.nefe.org/hsfppportal/index.html

    • This site and curriculum has not been made into an accessible format

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Financial Planning

Needs vs. wants



Education and training pays


“Pay Yourself First”


Checking Accounts

Saving & Investments

The benefits of starting to save early

Evaluating investments

Credit & Managing Debt

Managing credit

Evaluating credit offers and loans and the long-term costs

Risk & Insurance






The Curriculum—YouthTopics Covered

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Other Training Topics Included in BYFF

  • Additional financial information specific to People with Disabilities

    • Loan Fund specifics

    • Medical Bills

    • Employment Benefits

      • These Tip Sheets are in your packet

  • Financial Assistive Technology

    • Talking calculators, bill paying software, ergonomic pens, budgeting items

      • A list of some of these items is in your packet

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Other Training Topics—Reality Store for Youth

  • Students envision what their lives will be like when they're in their mid-20s--what job they will have, if they might be single or married, etc. 

  • They are given a "checkbook" with a deposit equal to one month's salary in their chosen field. Students then visit booths, staffed by local community members, at which they pay their monthly bills.

  • The Reality Store has proven an effective teaching tool in communities around the country and offers an excellent opportunity for collaboration with local businesses and organizations.

    • Credit union personnel can staff the booth in which students open a checking account, local grocery stores can sponsor and staff the food booth, etc. There are also booths for things like housing, utilities, transportation, child care, health and dental care, utilities, personal care, entertainment, insurance.

  • Participants and volunteers all benefit from the experience. In the past, volunteers have commented that participating in the Reality Store was one of the most rewarding things they had done that year.

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Reality Store

  • Purchase this curriculum from the Business and Professional Women’s Organization in your state:

    • www.bpwusa.org

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Results from Year 1

  • During the first year, Building Your Financial Future, the financial education component of the Assistive Technology and Telework Loan Funds, achieved some excellent outcomes including:

    • 30 trainers were certified as Money Smart educators.

    • 910 people participated in Building Your Financial Future seminars across the state.

    • The 16 partner organizations held trainings at more than 46 locations throughout the state

    • Over 500 DVDs were distributed to credit unions, intermediate school districts, libraries, television stations, and social service organizations around Michigan.

    • 93.6% of participants surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that the training was useful for them in their life.

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Students are seeing immediate savings after participating in Building Your Financial Future:

  • “After day one, I went home and went over my expenses and cut over $100 from my budget using the tips I learned from class!”

  • “I was going to go out and get furniture from the Rent to Own place this evening for my new apartment--I’m glad we covered this topic today!”

  • “The most useful things I have learned, “1. How to save money on a daily basis. 2. Teach our children how to spend money 3. Always have something in my saving account.” (refugee)

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Participants gained resolve after Building Your Financial Future (BYFF):

  • "Now I'm trying harder not to spend money on an impulse." 

  • “[Building Your Financial Future] made me think about money more positively and that I can manage my money.”

  • “Hopefully, I can follow a budget and improve my credit rating.”

  • “I have bad credit and now I know what to do [about it].”

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Participants are changing the way they handle their finances in concrete ways:

  • “I am going to read credit card statements more carefully and purchase a car with more knowledge of questions to ask about the loan and finances.”

  •  “[Because of Building Your Financial Future] I'll be able to decide for myself if the loan is worth it or too much interest will be paid.”

  • “[Now that I have learned through Building Your Financial Future] I will read my credit card statements. I will try to live within my means. I won't put things I'm mailing out into a residential mailbox. I will see if I can renegotiate my car loan.”

  • “I plan to start working with a monthly budget, and to start saving money every month.”

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Expected Results from Year 2 in concrete ways:

*If you would like a copy of the Knowledge is Power DVD, email Adeline Metzler

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Lessons Learned in concrete ways:

  • People with disabilities of all ages are in need of financial literacy opportunities.

  • This need appears to be increasing with the continued problems with Michigan’s economy.

  • It is sometimes difficult for people to begin to address their finances.

  • Outreach efforts need to be fine-tuned based on the community.

  • The curriculums offered are valued by the participants.

  • Parents are not teaching these skills to their children.

  • Local partners who did not have strong ties with the Latino/a community experienced rocky relationship building.

  • Staff members at financial institutions need diversity training related to people with disabilities, but when offered, often welcome it.

  • Broad-based partnerships can produce exciting and rewarding results.

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Contact us in concrete ways:

We are excited about the success of our program and would love to help you get something started in your state. Feel free to contact us:

Aimee Sterk, MSW, Program Manager,

Michigan Disability Rights Coalition

(616) 797-9769


Adeline Metzler, EVP,

Option 1 Credit Union

(517) 319-1300


Leah March, Loan Fund Manager

UCP of Michigan

(800) 828-2714