Brooklyn Public Library

Growing Dollars and $ense makes sense for adults and teens at the Brooklyn Public Library and branch locations. The adults are offered financial education seminars on six topics, followed by small-group workshops and individual counseling, and teens can get involved in financial education workshops.
Each 90 minute seminar covers a specific topic and the series is designed to work sequentially. The library partnered with New York City’s Office of Financial Empowerment and they provided technical support and help facilitating partnerships with other organizations.

Inside the library marketing

The project team created a Growing Dollars and $ense section of the library’s website to serve as an online home for the project. The landing page includes basic information about the program, announcements of and links for upcoming events, links to partners’ websites and links to the pages for adults and teen programs. The library features the program’s website address on screensavers on the library’s queue monitors- large screens that list wait times for Brooklyn Public Library’s 1,100 public-access computers. This proved to be an effective method for reaching the many users who visit the library for computer access.

Cross promotional marketing also helps advertise the program. In addition to the Growing Dollars and $ense section of the library’s website, information about the program appears in several other key places on the site: the online program calendar, the TeenZone resources page; and as a tout on the library’s homepage. Growing Dollars and $ense is promoted on the library’s official blog, No Shush Zone; the Twitter feed; and on the Facebook page. Public announcements that a Dollars & Sense program is starting in the library proved successful in attracting the attention of users who could conveniently join the presentation.

Evaluation plays a role

The library’s outside evaluator gathered and analyzed data from a variety of sources and prepared an interim and final evaluation report. Focus groups, session evaluations, online surveys, partner interviews, attendance/web usage/circulation statistics and user feedback are all instruments that were used to gauge how well the program is meeting identified goals. The Growing Dollars and $ense team took the findings of the interim evaluation report and made midyear adjustments to the program.

Lessons Learned

• “We learned that a better program model is one that presents seminars as discrete programs aimed at specific, high-need target groups rather than a general audience,” said project principal, Kerwin Pilgrim. Credit repair, getting out of debt and investment strategies are topics identified most frequently in our program evaluations.”

• “We hoped to reach more teens with our website and now realize we need to redesign our course materials with more online content for tech savvy teens,” said Pilgrim.

• To encourage staff to attend training seminars, the library offered skills training to help them manage their own finances. This translated into a well-prepared staff comfortable explaining financial education resources and promoting programs.

Grants awarded in 2009; 2011; 2013


Looking to take your library’s financial literacy efforts to the next level? Connect with ALA’s Financial Literacy Interest Group.