Financial Literacy Fundraiser in Portland Showcases Finance Games

Credit union employees hear it all the time: students need financial literacy training because they’re often not getting it at home. Plus, good classroom training often makes its way home to parents, so entire families benefit.

It’s a pattern the staff at Portland-based Financial Beginnings has seen repeated many times, and one they’re better prepared to address thanks to a bigger team of volunteers and well-planned fundraising. Credit unions and the general public now have an opportunity to be a part of that fundraising effort through the organization’s “Game of Life” fundraiser, scheduled for April 26 in Portland, Ore.

The “Game of Life” fundraiser will showcase a number of fun and educational financial literacy games, including one presented by the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA), who is signed on as a game table sponsor. The event will take place at the Urban Studio in downtown Portland (935 Northwest Davis) from 4-7 p.m., with tickets available for just $35. More information can be obtained by contacting Development Director Kristin Monahan.

From humble beginnings in 2005 when “a handful of volunteers” set out to train 500 children in Portland schools, Financial Beginnings now boasts a stable of more than 500 volunteers and expects to educate more than 16,000 students in the next fiscal year. Expansion from Oregon and Southwest Washington into the entire state of Washington is planned to begin in the upcoming program year.

Monahan reports an “overwhelming” demand for classroom assistance, especially since the Oregon Department of Education now requires classroom attention to personal finance. While two-hour modules of economics, math or social studies class time are given up for the instruction, the curriculum isn’t provided by the schools—it is provided by Financial Beginnings’ trained volunteers, many of whom are credit union professionals.

“A lot of our volunteers are from the local finance industry, and they can share their own anecdotes and career experiences, teaching important lessons about budgeting, credit, insurance, savings and investing,” Monahan said. “Really, we cover all the basics. Our goal is to empower the students to play an active and educated role in their future. We don’t want them to make poor decisions that will hinder their ability in higher education, in their careers, in buying a home, even paying for a vacation. We hope they will learn to manage their finances in a way that works for them.”

Financial Beginnings targets two age groups: high school students and young adults through the “Financial Foundations” program, and children in elementary and middle schools by managing Operation HOPE’s “Banking on the Future” program.

Fundraising supports volunteer training and pays for manuals, teaching tools and other materials. According to Monahan, it costs approximately $17 to provide this financial education to each student.

In this economic climate, fundraising dinners seemed somehow passé, so Financial Beginnings is sponsoring a more mission-aligned game night. The approach was successful last year.

“People just had a great time,” Monahan said. “We thought we could do something fun and educational by making the tickets more accessible.”

Monahan said that tickets are still available on the organization’s website, with volunteers eligible to receive discounted tickets for $25. Prizes being offered include a Hood River vacation package, a round of golf at the Portland Golf Club, restaurant gift certificates and family fun packs.

The most popular prize, Monahan predicted, will be a $1,000 grant for the Oregon 529 College Savings Program.

“We really want the community and all of our volunteers to come,” she said. “It’s such a great way to observe Financial Literacy Month in April.”


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Posted in Around the NW, Events.