Fayetteville Public Library

Located in Northwest Arkansas, the Fayetteville Public Library created Saving Money Makes Ȼents to share financial planning strategies with multigenerational households living paycheck to paycheck. Activity-based programs were offered at several locations in Fayetteville, including schools, Head Start facilities and Senior Centers.

Multigenerational Programs Make Ȼents

Tips for talking to kids about money, including allowance, goal setting, saving and spending can help parents start a conversation. Fayetteville’s family seminars on teaching money management skills to elementary age children included parent/grandparent and child activities. The sessions held at the library began with a free meal and concluded with interactive lessons on finances.

Library staff discovered a factor that made these programs so popular. Participants—whether adult, teens or children—didn’t necessarily identify themselves within a specific age group. Staff thought participants would prefer to engage in discussions with their peers, but the family sessions attracted people regardless of age or family status. The more varied the age ranges and experiences, the more engaging the discussions.

Teens Take the Challenge

Reaching the teen audience can be challenging, so the library partnered with the University of Arkansas Extension Service to offer the Get Real Here’s the Deal program to students at Woodland Junior High. This is a hands-on simulation that gives young people the opportunity to experience their future in a financial decision-making mode. Pre- and post-event surveys to measure the impact of this program showed 44% of students increased their understanding of financial management and its importance. Some 36% of students gained a better understanding of budgeting, preparing for the future, saving, spending and using checking accounts.

Lessons Learned

• “Be open and flexible, because change is inevitable,” noted Adult and Reference Service Manager Willow Fitzgibbon. She explained that the senior center shifted focus from financial literacy. “However, we made contact with a local church, and they have an underserved population they were trying to reach. They were happy to partner with us to offer the senior programs at their location prior to the weekly community meal.”

• “We learned that partner agencies with existing group gatherings can incorporate Saving Money Makes Ȼents into their scheduled activities. The library wants to reach Spanish-speaking populations, and we are discussing a possible partnership with Ozark Literacy to support an adult ESL women’s group.”

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