Building Financial Capability in Central Oregon

By Jill Winsor

IMG_5504On Monday, March 20th, Janet and I traveled down to Bend to facilitate a training with NeighborImpact on a great toolkit- Building Financial Capability: A planning guide for integrated services. We had a great turn out with representation from thirteen different organizations who came together to learn about opportunities to better connect clients with financial capability services.

Financial capability refers to the combination of knowledge, skills and access to resources that make it possible for each of us to manage our financial resources effectively. Financial capability services include things like financial education, credit counseling, and matched savings programs like the Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative and Children’s Savings Accounts.

When we bring these services into the organizations that clients already access and trust, we do a much better job of meeting people where they are. We know that financial issues and questions lie just beneath the surface of our concerns about the roof over our head, getting a job, or our children’s educational success. Making sure we are addressing financial issues and questions as part of the other services we       provide can greatly increase the impact we have in the lives of our community members.

Everyone who attended the training understood this truth and really got down to work thinking through ways to use the planning guide to create stronger referral processes, change organizational workflows and increase organizational capacity. Lynne McConnell (NeighborImpact) and Patty Wilson (Head Start) gave a great case study example of the work they have done to make sure that Head Start staff and participants are able to easily access financial education classes, free tax preparation services and IDAs.

We also learned about great resources like Bank On Oregon, the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) and Oregon Saves (Oregon’s new retirement savings program!). A huge thank you to Kevin Jefferies (DCBS) and Joel Metlen (Oregon Saves) for joining us in Bend!

Thanks to Lynne and her team at NeighborImpact for helping us put on this training and for getting such a great group of people in the room. We’ll keep out sights on Central Oregon to set an example for improving financial capability!

Reach out to Jill Winsor, jwinsor@neighborhoodpartnerships.org if you have any interest in this training, we plan to offer it again in a few different regions.