Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, Rochester, NY

Rochester Public Library and the Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Rochester (CCCS) provided personal finance education to participants in library-hosted English as a second language (ESL) classes and integrated financial literacy activities into the library’s summer programs for children. The adult classes were co-taught by the library’s ESL volunteers and a financial educator from CCCS.

Key Activities: 

  • Convened an advisory panel with representatives from CCCS and local refugee communities, which comprised the primary audience for the project. The advisory panel was instrumental in helping librarians understand various community beliefs, gender roles, areas of misinformation, and cultural norms that impact financial behaviors.
  • Created family financial literacy kits, which included books, media, resource lists, and suggested activities. There were two versions: one for children in grades K–3; the other for children in grades 4–6. The kits were distributed to all branch libraries, which received guidance on how to promote the kits. The library also shared the kits with the Child Care Council of Rochester.
  • With CCCS, trained ESL teachers on basic financial literacy concepts of importance to the target audience.
    • Incorporated financial literacy lessons into ESL programs, both at the library and at other agencies, including the Rochester City School District, the Office of Adult and Career Education Services, and Refugees Helping Refugees (a nonprofit serving Somalis in western New York State). The curriculum conveyed essential concepts in a visual manner that was mindful of the participants’ limited English language skills. Each class included 30 minutes of topical discussion, followed by break-out sessions based on language proficiency. The learning cycle addressed the following financial topics, among others:
      • Understanding basic types of payment
      • Budgeting and managing household expenses
      • Understanding U.S. financial institutions
      • Understanding and using U.S. financial products
      • Understanding the U.S. credit system
      • Protecting personal information
      • Protecting your money
      • Understanding and filing taxes
      • Managing healthcare expenses
      • Buying a home
  • Conducted programs concurrent with the ESL classes to engage children in money-related lessons using the library’s new family financial kits.
  • Conducted financial literacy day camps for refugee children in grades 4–6 in partnership with CCCS and the City of Rochester’s Department of Recreation and Youth Services.
  • Partnered with the school district to deliver a series of programs for teens and parents. The focus was on saving for college and preparing for financial decisions after high

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