Get Money Wise@Hartford Public Library connected with two target audiences: families with children and young adults in high school and college. In designing its programs, the library was mindful that the poverty rate for children in Hartford is 45 percent, and most people learn what they know about money management in the home. “We wanted to expand understanding about managing money by raising children’s financial literacy levels and teaching parents ways to teach their children about money,” noted project principal Corey Fleming.
Families and Summer Reading
The library’s outreach strategy leveraged its well-established summer program for children and families and incorporated strong community partnerships. Financial literacy topics were built-in to programming as part of the children’s summer reading program. Library staff teamed-up with elementary schools offering a free lunch program and coordinated joint activities. Youth librarians adapted content from Money on the Bookshelf and selected children’s books related to four financial literacy objectives: saving for a goal; needs vs. wants; avoiding fraud; and working to earn money. Money As You Grow materials, with age-appropriate financial lessons and corresponding activities, attracted children and parents at five neighborhood branches. These participants enjoyed story times and corresponding activities that promoted the learning objectives.
During the school year, librarians worked with nonprofit agencies serving Hartford families to encourage participation in the library programs. Workshops for young adults and their families were taught by University of Hartford faculty and graduate students. These programs were offered both at library branches and at off-site locations and focused on promoting good financial decision-making, planning skills, and paying for college.
Capital Community College’s High School Partnership program brought high school students to workshops at the college. Community college interns assisted with the library’s “Lunch, Learn, Life Skills” series at Boys and Girls Clubs, Hartford Communities That Care after-school programs, and Hartford Public High School. Students who attended the seminars were eligible to receive extra credit.
• Many of the workshops were parent-child activities. Fleming noted, “Evaluation results show that, after participating in workshop activities, 92 percent of parents felt more comfortable in their knowledge of financial topics and in their ability to teach their children about money management.”
• “Our youth librarians are becoming increasingly comfortable with financial topics and also more knowledgeable about children’s financial learning needs at different age levels,” said Fleming. “This experience and knowledge will allow us to not only sustain the programs at the current five branches, but expand them to all 10 Hartford Public Library locations.”