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Community Spotlight: Financial Literacy with Academy Bank

An Interview with Brittani Burke, Financial Literacy Facilitator at WBP

Written by Cassi Lamb, USC Intern at Women’s Bean Project

Academy Bank partners with Women’s Bean Project to provide Financial Literacy classes, one of the core programming classes. The Financial Literacy Class is an important element of career development and personal growth for the participants at WBP. One of the teachers, Brittani Burke is a Commercial Loan Assistant at Academy Bank. Brittani got involved in teaching at WBP through Bret Duston, her boss at Academy Bank and WBP Board Member. They created the curriculum together and started teaching the course here in 2018.  

The participants that have taken the Financial Literacy course have consistently enjoyed the classes and found the skills helpful. One of our current participants, Sabina, who just completed the Financial Literacy course said: “The class is very helpful in a lot of ways, especially for those who don’t have those skills so that they can learn and implement them in their life.” 

Women’s Bean Project is thankful to partner with Academy Bank to provide a Financial Literacy course to all participants so that they can learn economic stability and more towards self-sustainability. Continue reading to learn more about Brittani, the Financial Literacy class, and the impact it has on our participants. 

Question: What is the goal and vision of the Financial Literacy class?  

Answer:  Our goal with our Financial Literacy program is to provide basic banking knowledge to all people interested in learning how to conduct basic banking business. Our program teaches people how to start saving by paying themselves first, how to manage a checking account with detailed instruction on balancing a checkbook, how to apply for the appropriate credit cards and managing credit, as well as how to understand credit reporting and lastly, we cover how to make and set a budget. 

Question: Can you explain what exactly Financial Literacy entails?  

Answer: Our Basic Financial Literacy Program is made up of a 3-part series. The first class of the series covers Savings and Checking accounts. In this class we discuss the various types of savings accounts that are available and how they operate. We also cover checking accounts and the multiple products that come from having a checking account, such as checks, debit cards, ATM cards and online banking. In class we do a checkbook balancing exercise, and we discuss the importance of a banking relationship and how having a good one can unlock opportunities.  

Our second class covers Credit/Debit Cards and Credit Reporting. In this series, we explain the differences between Credit and Debit Cards, as well as having Secured and Unsecured credit. We share the secrets of using their credit cards responsibly to better their credit scores and then we talk about credit reporting and how there are 3 different reporting companies where they can gain free copies of their credit reports each year to help them stay on top of their credit score.  

Our third and final class covers Budgeting. In this session, we talk about their needs vs their wants, and how to establish a budget that helps to keep the scale in balance. We create a budget together using input from the ladies on income and bills to create a sample budget and show them how they can do it too. We end the session with a friendly game of Family Feud which covers all the topics we learned over the 3-week course. 

Question: What is your favorite part about the job? What does this partnership between Academy Bank and WBP mean to you?  

Answer:   I think my favorite thing about being a part of the program is being able to help the women understand how to manage their finances on their own and seeing them learn things they were never taught before. There’s just something so powerful in empowering another woman. 

I’m proud to be a part of a program that helps empower women in our community. I love that these ladies are getting a second chance at life, and anything I can do to help with that, I’m game for.  

Question: What are some skills you hope to see participants leave with? How does Financial Literacy contribute towards sustainable employment?  

Answer: Honestly, if there is one thing they take away from our classes, I hope that they learn how to pay themselves first. One of the keys to having a happy life is having some financial freedom. Learning to put a small amount of money aside each month will be important in helping them reach their goals. 

Understanding that your credit can impact your employment is important. Not just Employers but landlords, insurance companies etc.  look at your credit and can make determinations based on how you handle your credit. Our program is giving these ladies the tools to make improvements to their credit to help open opportunity not just in employment, but in life as well.  

Question: Have you had any memorable/impactful experiences teaching classes at WBP?  

Answer:  Every time I teach at the WBP feels memorable to me. Seeing the ladies leave with valuable knowledge makes me feel good. Especially when I come back the second and third weeks of a session and I hear them talk about how they tried something they learned from the class we taught the week prior. I love going to the WBP fundraiser, Ready, Set, Grow and seeing the ladies graduate and hearing where their new future takes them. It makes me feel proud to see them succeed. 

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