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Volume 9, Issue 2, 2009   Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Inaugural Money Week Houston Campaign Promotes Financial Education Across City

Residents from every walk of life focused on financial education April 19–25 during the inaugural Money Week Houston campaign.

In a citywide effort, more than 150 free public events were held at libraries, churches, schools and community centers throughout Greater Houston, offering consumers the opportunity to increase their financial literacy and learn to better manage their personal finances. Workshops, seminars and other activities targeted diverse audiences, including women, seniors, youths and workers without bank accounts.

The Houston Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas was a major partner in Money Week Houston, sponsoring several key events and working closely with the planning committee and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Alliance for Economic Inclusion. Other Money Week Houston partners—more than 200 in all—included local businesses, financial institutions, schools, libraries, nonprofits, government agencies and the media.

Envisioned as an annual event, the campaign was originally planned for Sept. 14–20, 2008, but had to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Ike. The April date worked well, coinciding with National Financial Literacy Month.

Scholarship Winners

U.S. Rep. Al Green congratulates essay contest winners Victoria Edrington and Alexandria Hawkins.

To kick off the long-anticipated campaign, the Houston Branch hosted a breakfast program for Money Week Houston partners on April 20. Highlights included the presentation of Capital One Bank's Money Smart Kid essay contest. The contest offered a $5,000 scholarship to one winner each at the middle school and high school level. Alexandria Hawkins from Fort Settlement Middle School and Victoria Edrington from Lamar High School read their winning essays and were congratulated by U.S. Rep. Al Green. Houston City Councilwoman Wanda Adams was also on hand, and Mayor Bill White and Texas state Sen. Rodney Ellis both sent proclamations recognizing the Money Week Houston program.

Attendees at the kickoff event also heard a thought-provoking panel on "Best Practices in Financial Education," moderated by Kelvin Boston of PBS's Moneywise. Panelists included Shannon Buggs (Houston Chronicle), Laura Jaramillo (Wells Fargo), Debby Loomis (Texas Department of Banking), Alfreda Norman (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas), Tim Shaunty (Texas Council on Economic Education), Brooke Stephens (author and financial adviser) and Eloy Villafranca (FDIC).

On April 22, Houston-area high school students and teachers spent a day at the Houston Branch enjoying lively educational activities during the 100 Teens ... Making Houston Money Smart celebration. Sessions covered making financial choices, protecting against scams, and budgeting and featured speakers from the Federal Reserve, the council on economic education, the Better Business Bureau Education Foundation, Regions Bank and Frost Bank. Volunteers from the FDIC, Junior Achievement and Regions Bank assisted with the event.

Kelvin Boston

Alfreda Norman and Denise Shanklin, director of Money Week Houston

Brooke Stephens and Jackie Hoyer, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Houston Branch

Full Slate of Activities

Two key events preceded the main week of activities. An Economic Stimulus Town Hall Forum, featuring Moneywise's Boston, was held at Communications Workers of America Local 6222 on April 17. The following day, a Money Smart Military Resource Fair was held at Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.

Victor Trevino speaks at the Financial Literacy Carnival.

Women's financial concerns were the focus of Women's Financial Fitness Day on April 21 at the University of Houston–Downtown. Featuring an all-female panel of experts and Muriel Seibert of brokerage Muriel Seibert & Co. as keynote speaker, the daylong event covered credit, debt, building wealth and related topics. Audience members ranging in age from 18 to 78 were able to discuss individual experiences with the experts and hear firsthand accounts of the importance of retirement planning.

A Financial Literacy Carnival sponsored by the Houston READ Commission took place April 23–24 at the Denver Harbor Multi-Service Center. Focused on teaching financial literacy and money management, the event drew more than 200 attendees, who gathered information from about two dozen participating organizations. Guest presenters included Harris County Constable Victor Trevino, Houston City Controller Annise Parker, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, financial author Omar Tyree and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

Library Programs, Workshops

Throughout the week, the Houston Public Library hosted financial education programs at branches across the city. Topics included saving and investing, education financing, career development, homeownership, identity theft and scams, managing your money, and credit and debt. A Start-Up Plus series of workshops on planning and financing a small business was also offered.

Survey results from Money Week Houston partners and event participants are being compiled. Indications are that the program was a great success, and plans are under way for the next campaign, to be held April 18–24, 2010. For more information, visit the website at www.moneyweekhouston.org.

"Money issues and the management of them are lifetime concerns... It isn't realistic to wait until students get to high school to teach them about the practical side of borrowing, spending and saving.... Money matters are just as critical as health and mental/physical well-being. How to do a budget, open a savings account and read a credit card agreement are important concepts that can wreck your life if you wait until you're in a crisis to figure them out."

Brooke Stephens, author/financial adviser
  Panelist, Money Week Houston


e-Perspectives, Volume 9, Issue 2, 2009

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