Chesterfield County Public Library

Elementary age children and their mothers are learning about budget basics and fundamental personal finance principles through FUN (Families Understanding Numbers) @ the Chesterfield County Public Library. It’s a big topic to cover in a wide geographic area of 404 square miles that has no public transit system. Program planners selected branch locations to host the programs reaching the greatest number of participants from the target audience of low and moderate income families.

Convenience Counts

The eighteen month series was offered on Tuesday evening and Saturday morning. The evening program started with dinner from 5:30-6pm. Parents and children loved having dinner together and Family Math portion of the program started promptly so families remained together for dinner and the activity.
 Sarah and her mom, celebrate their accomplishments at the F.U.N. @ CCPL graduation ceremony at the library.Activities were planned to build skills and also create fun for kids and adults. One example is estimation jars of different sizes and shapes. These constantly changing containers filled with marshmallows, jelly beans and chocolate kisses challenged the children and created discussions about amount, volume and space. Estimation exercises opened the sessions and even created a friendly competition among the adults and children. One mother who was attending with her son told her son’s principal, “You need to learn about what they are doing in the library because it should be in the schools.”

Delivering Value

FUN @CCPL is providing knowledge and understanding about managing money and delivering value to families and the broader community. A banking session focused on contacting customer service at the bank and simply asking “What can you do for me?” Through a role- playing session, coupled with a better understanding of what to expect from customer service, a class participant was encouraged to call back the bank and ask to speak with another person if she felt that the banker was not responding. She did call back and said, “I never would have done that before- I would not have persisted.”

UPDATE: A follow-on grant is focusing on “grand families” a group that is growing nationally, as more grandparents take responsibility for raising their grandchildren. Resources include Great Minds Think from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and support from the County Senior Advocate Office.

Lessons Learned

• Making it meaningful meant focusing core mathematics concepts that did indeed transform information into usable knowledge.

• A seminar on healthy eating on a budget by a trained nutritionist, followed by a trip to the grocery store helped participants make good financial and healthy meal choices that fit the family budget.

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