Columbus Telegram (Nebraska)
By: Julie Blum
December 1, 2011
Money, banking lessons aimed at new Americans
A year-old program is helping people get a lesson in dollars and cents.
More than 80 people have learned the basic ins and outs of banking through the School for Success, a Columbus Area United Way sponsored program.
The program started about a year ago in Columbus and Schuyler and targets new Americans who might not be familiar with the financial system.
"They might have a good understanding of the banking system in their country, but not understand the one here," said Project Coordinator Lucia Gaytan Schulz.
Free courses offered in both English and Spanish cover topics like understanding credit, budget concepts and savings.
There are nine sessions overall and new classes will begin in January.
"The classes are so important especially with the economy because people are so concerned about their money and what they are putting in their pockets," Gaytan Schulz said.
Twelve people from Columbus have graduated the program. Gaytan Schulz hopes to see the program branch out more. A partnership with the Platte Valley Literacy Association was made to reach English as a second language students.
As an added incentive to take the program, $25 is given to participants who complete a certain number of sessions. The money is to be used to open a savings account.
Gaytan Schulz said those who are new to the American banking system are fearful of placing their money into accounts, so the program is also focusing on building a trusting relationship with banks.
Other topics touched on in the program include banking basics, repairing a credit report, asset building, protecting assets, avoiding scams and using coupons.
The program is available to those who are in the 11th grade to adult. It will be offered at the Columbus Public Library starting Jan. 9 and Columbus Head Start on Jan. 11. It will also be offered at Schuyler Head Start at a date to be determined.