San Diego Financial Literacy Center's Story
When the San Diego Financial Literacy Center (SDFLC) launched a series of financial planning clinics, recalls Managing Director Brad Pagano, “We greatly underestimated how popular the clinics were going to be.”
The Center partners with local organizations to offer group presentations (led by volunteer financial planners) on specific topics, from budgeting to credit restoration. Through outreach help from the county, SDFLC reaches more than 250 partner agencies.
“The challenge,” says Pagano “is getting the bandwidth to follow-up” with more intensive, one-on-one sessions that would take people beyond awareness of debt management to behavioral changes that would lead them toward financial self-sufficiency.
Toward that end, the Center is using a grant from the Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) to offer Financial Opportunity Clinics across the area. The Saturday clinics enable attendees of the group workshops to meet individually with a volunteer planner — and then return for more sessions.
Response has far exceeded expectations. “People want to come to speak one-on-one to a professional who will give them the no-nonsense information they need,” says Pagano.
As an example, he cites the young woman whose husband was deployed by the U.S. Army on short notice from San Diego to Tennessee (military families are a major part of the Center’s clientele). This meant that the family’s housing allowance was cut in half — leaving the wife and two children financially strapped.
Through one-on-one meetings at the clinics, a volunteer planner helped the woman access benefits that helped her to stabilize her financial situation. Through a deeper dive, she committed to a plan to become debt-free.
“The planner knew about resources even we didn’t know about,” says Pagano, who expects the one-on-one sessions to reach 600 individuals in 2017 thanks to the FFP grant. “We know we are changing lives.”
- Began offering free financial opportunity clinics across the San Diego area
- Expanded one-on-one sessions with volunteer financial planners
- As one typical example, helped a military family manage transition and debt.