Brief

Financial educations efforts need to change. The current emphasis on financial literacy is ineffective for a variety of reasons, primarily due to its lack of cultural understanding and incorrect "you should..." approach. It ignores the institutional barriers that low-income families must address to become financially stable. 

The Casey Foundation has been implementing its Family Economic Success (FES) strategies across the country for the past three years. These strategies seek to help low-income families access the economic supports necessary to establish credit, resolve past credit problems, reduce debt, learn more about financial budgeting and increase their financial security by saving and investing.

FES investments increase the supply of financial and non-financial services, promote public dialogue and policies that encourage low-income people to build long-term financial assets, and strengthen institutions working in the field. Early versions of the FES strategies conceptually envisioned a developmental sequence of knowledge-building supports that moved low-income families seamlessly from the EITC, to bank accounts, to retirement accounts and homeownership.

January 1, 2006

In This Report, You’ll Learn

  1. 1

    About issues surrounding financial education that make "financial literacy" alone inadequate in helping low-income families.

  2. 2

    Why the blame should not be solely on the individuals, but divided between individuals and financial institutions.

  3. 3

    Background and data illustrating the disparate impacts of economic trends on low-income families.

  4. 4

    The new types of financial education strategies that are emerging, and what they emphasize.

  1. 5

    Lessons and promising practices for implementing new financial education programs.

Key Takeaway

Urban communities of color are not monolithic. One-size-fits-all financial messages and packaging should not be either.

There has been very little formal research into the impact and efficiency of financial education programs on the long-term behavior of low-income people. For financial education efforts to be effective, they must be linked to changes in the economic and financial service context of low-income communities of color.

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations