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CreditSmart A Guide to Help You Understand, Promote, and Deliver the CreditSmart Curriculum

Success Stories

Here at Freddie Mac, we want to hear about your successful CreditSmart initiative, and share the good news with others. Did the media cover your workshops? Did you promote your initiative in an innovative way? Did you find a creative way to raise funds for your program? Or perhaps most importantly, did your workshops change someone's life? Please share your successes with us – and perhaps we'll highlight your story here. We'd love to hear about your good work.

Effective Marketing and Outreach

University of Missouri Office for Financial Success
The Financial Tip of the Week is a free weekly e-mail service from the University of Missouri-Columbia that reaches over 43,000 consumers with important financial information on topics such as beginning investing, managing debt, dealing with credit problems, and more. The information is designed to be accessible and educational while helping individuals make more informed financial decisions. Consumers can sign up to receive these free e-mail tips at http://financialtip.blogspot.com.

El Centro, Inc.
El Centro, Inc. provides vital homeownership services for Hispanic households in the Kansas City metropolitan area including pre- and post-purchase education, counseling services, home maintenance workshops, financial education, tax preparation, and Individual Development Accounts. El Centro also offers Low Income Tax Credit (LITC) clinics to provide information on IRS tax procedures and helps immigrant families apply for individual tax identification numbers (ITIN). Over 1,200 families receive free tax preparation and ITIN services every year in conjunction with the local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site, the KC Cash Coalition, and the IRS. For more information, visit www.elcentroinc.com/

Effective Partnership

Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement and Mothers Voices, Georgia
The Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) and Mothers' Voices of Georgia collaborates to bring financial and retirement education programs to minority women in rural Georgia and metropolitan Atlanta. The unique program offers WISER's training delivered to at-risk women through Mothers' Voices, with the help of trusted messengers and community leaders. WISER collaborated with over 45 local organizations to offer free financial literacy education services reaching over 2,500 African American low-income women in 2005. Outcomes are measured with pre- and post-workshop tests, written evaluations, and phone studies. For more details, visit www.wiserwomen.org.

University of Arizona Students in Free Enterprise
According USA Today, "teenagers are making little headway when it comes to financial literacy." University of Arizona Students in Free Enterprise partners with Hughes Federal Credit Union to teach high school students financial literacy. They then showcase their money management abilities at the Junior Duel in the Desert, a personal finance case study competition. Students are able to internalize and use these important principles, paving the way for future economic self-sufficiency.

Effective Tools

Neighborhood Housing Services of Great Falls
Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Great Falls works cooperatively with process servers from the county sheriffs' office to provide foreclosure prevention information to homeowners in default with their home loans. This partnership was initiated by a request from the Cascade County Sheriff's Office in their role as process servers to deliver legal notices on foreclosure actions to homeowners. In 2005, servers also began distributing brochures with information on foreclosure prevention services available at NHS of Great Falls along with the foreclosure notices. Homeowners could then contact the agency to set up counseling sessions to discuss their situation and learn about available options. Shortly after the partnership began, NHS of Great Falls sent letters to all of the county sheriff offices throughout Montana to offer this service statewide. This low-cost partnership is now helping to reduce foreclosures throughout the state of Montana.

University of Missouri-Columbia Office of Financial Success
Many college administrators have lamented that they lose more students for financial reasons than academic reasons. This class is an effort to address this issue. Financial Survival is a one-credit college course developed by Dr. Mark Oleson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Personal Financial Planning, at the University of Missouri. Financial Survival was developed as a way to enable students from all areas of study to learn more about personal finance. The class focuses on day-to-day personal finance issues such as establishing a budget, setting financial goals, managing debt, reducing debt, understanding credit cards, student loans, financial pitfalls, and other "student-specific" financial information.

Motivating Consumers

Lighthouse Credit Foundation
Lighthouse Credit Foundation (LCF) offers its LifeSmarts program to teens to teach financial literacy and life skills. The program concentrates on training students to participate in The National Consumers League's LifeSmarts competition, which focuses on five key areas of consumer knowledge, to prepare them to function effectively in today's world. LCF sponsors up to 10 teams of five teens, and provides intensive coaching on all the subjects.

LCF's certified credit counselors volunteer their time to teach, train, and coach teens on the areas focused on in the LifeSmarts competition. These are: Personal Finance; Health and Safety, including Drug and Alcohol Prevention; Environment; Technology; and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities. The goal of the program is to increase students' knowledge in these categories, and in turn, to provide them with the necessary life skills for self-sufficiency and success. For more details, visit http://lighthousecredit.org.

St. Lucie County Cooperative Extension
Teenage residents at a Florida drug treatment center receive four one-hour lessons on life skills related to financial management. Lessons are provided in an interactive format. The training encourages group participation and dispels misconceptions about money management. A non-judgmental atmosphere allows participants to reason out solutions based on information provided.

Four segments are presented sequentially building upon the knowledge gained in the previous lesson. Topics are: 1) Applying and Interviewing for Your First Job, 2) Banking Basics, 3) Are You Ready to Launch?, and 4) Understanding Credit Cards. The purpose of the Life Skills financial training is to prepare these youth to make sound financial choices.

Resource Development and Fundraising

The Freddie Mac CreditSmart Asian initiative has helped Boat People SOS (BPSOS) leverage different resources and receive many in-kind contributions across the nation. By strengthening our expertise in consumer education, we have received $32,000 funding from NeighborWorks® to assist Katrina victims to prevent foreclosure, $47,000 from Community Trust Fund in New Orleans to enroll eligible participants into the Individual Development Accounts program, and $10,000 matching funds from South Alabama Development Center in Bayou La Batre. Additionally, we established effective partnerships with local realtors, lending agencies, and other consumer advocate organizations to support and implement the CreditSmart Asian workshops as our guest speakers or trainers.

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