The JPMorgan Chase Foundation has renewed its grant to the Westchester Community College Center for Financial and Economic Education. The center was launched with the bank’s initial grant in May 2011 and this grant, $150,000 for the fall semester, will allow the center to expand its personal finance training and education for students, faculty, staff and the community.
The programs funded by the grant will include sessions targeted at students with financial and academic needs and those in the English Language Institute. The money will also allow the center to expand its offerings to Westchester residents and form partnerships with other community organizations involved in financial education.
“Nothing is more important than helping individuals in our community to become more informed about managing their everyday financial decisions,” said Bob Como, head of Chase Business Banking in Westchester County, northern New York and Connecticut.
During its first year, the center introduced noncredit personal finance workshops and classes. Some sessions were designed for students involved in programs such as TRIO, a federally funded program for disadvantaged students, and the Educational Opportunity Program, as well as those involved in College Success, a skill-building course for incoming college students.
“Our program responds to the fact that the large majority of our students and residents of Westchester County have never had access to effective financial education,” said Suzanne Matthews, the center’s director. “In the past year we’ve been able to lay the groundwork for carrying out our mission of bringing professional resources to the community and making money management tools more accessible to individual students and adults.”
The center last year had more than 800 students on financial topics such as credit, debt, saving and investing. It has been involved in promoting financial education in the county by helping to form the Westchester Financial Education Alliance, a group of four organizations including the United Way of Westchester and Putnam, the Financial Planning Association of the Greater Hudson Valley and GreenPath. One of the events sponsored by the Alliance was Financial Education Day, held at the Gateway Center at WCC in March. This half-day conference was open to the public and offered free financial workshops, one-on-one counseling and personal finance expert Jean Chatzky.
Westchester Community College is offering several new “financial fitness” classes this fall to help people manage their money in tough economic times. Courses include Managing Your Money While Unemployed, Personal Finance for College Kids, Smart Money for Parents and Teens, and Credit Repair and You. Students will learn how to establish and achieve personal financial goals; how to create a budget, stick with it and control spending; how to reduce or eliminate debt; how to save and spend money wisely, and how to understand and improve your credit score.