Estes Valley Public Library District

The Estes Valley Public Library offered a wide-ranging array of programs to this small, mountain community nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

The Surveys Say

The library took a deliberate approach to determine what kind of programming the residents wanted and needed. They decided a survey and general test of the community’s basic financial knowledge would generate interest and provide clear direction. More than 450 surveys and quizzes from adults and teens showed that average scores were slightly above the national average. These data was used to guide the content of a core five-part financial literacy series offered multiple times throughout the grant period. Content for an in-school curriculum for teen audiences was also based on these results. Staff benefited too with a better understanding about community needs and the surveys also added credibility to the project.

Engaging Community Leaders

Called “Common Cents Counts,” the program focused on several target audiences: children ages 4-10 years old; high school students; working adults and general audiences. As a next step, the library recruited two important groups; an Advisory Board and Key Informants (community leaders) to assure general understanding of the project among influential citizens and to address how each group could use the project to meet the needs of their constituents. Conversations led to delivery of several on-site specialized workshops for major employers including the YMCA of the Rockies, and other organizations such as health clinics, child care providers, and the Senior Center. “The Estes Park Police Department requested our help with marketing for their staff seminars on 401 (k) savings and investing, and we were happy to help them,” said project principal Kurtis Kelly. Regular communication among all groups led to ongoing strong support for the program and also strengthened exiting and new partnerships.

Training for the Future

Many libraries have train-the-trainer programs, usually for staff training. But Common Cents Counts took a different approach and trained middle and high school students in financial and leadership skills.

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These students then conducted more than 10 reading sessions about financial concepts with over 200 grade school students. By teacher request, three additional sessions with middle school students were conducted. Adding to the enrichment, all 3rd, 4th and 5th graders received their own copy of the Lemonade War and a special visit from the author who talked to students about managing their money.

In a smaller community the number of potential partners may be fewer but there is a positive effect of having a core group of service providers who have a tradition of working together. The program identified many important partners who formed the Advisory Board and the Key Informants. Through regular communication, partnerships grew into outreach opportunities that circled back to the library.

Lessons Learned

• “We had to modify our original plans and find new or better ways to reach our original goals, Kelly said. Our plans to offer on-site instruction to the Estes Park Medical Center staff—though originally welcomed—were later tabled—while other unexpected avenues emerged, such as on-site workshops for the Estes Park Police Dept. staff.”

• Newspapers, radio, respected leaders and community word-of-mouth have all been very supportive of this project and have spread the word about the value of the library.

• “We integrated money themes into some of our regular library programs and ‘cross-pollinated’ existing programs with financial literacy themes,” said Kelly. “Films are a recurring part of our program offerings. We screened films like Confessions of a Shopaholic and The Pursuit of Happyness—discussed the money themes afterward and reached an audience we might not with our money classes.”

Grants awarded in 2009; 2012


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