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Oakland Public Library Financial Literacy Project: Interview with Consumer Credit Counseling Service San Francisco

The idea we are working on is to establish a financial literacy program for the patrons of Oakland Public Library.

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The idea we are working on is to establish an effective financial literacy program for the patrons of Oakland Public Library, and if successful, scale the approach to include additional libraries and trusted community spaces.

2015.06July-01 Update - Consumer Credit Counseling Service San Francisco

Earlier this week Marco Chavarin, VP of Development at Consumer Credit Counseling Services San Francisco ( ) spent some time with me talking about CCCS services and how they might tie into the OPL Financial Literacy project. Marco has recent experience in helping to introduce Financial Literacy programming into Bay Area Libraries. While previously serving in the Treasurer’s Office, he helped secure a $100,000 FINRA* grant for San Francisco Public Library.** This grant is currently being applied towards the SFPL ‘Pennies to Plans’ curriculum managed by Yemila Alvarez, Community Engagement Manager at San Francisco Public Library.*** CCCSSF is expanding geographically in order to assist more people, and one of the areas they are seeking to work with is Oakland. He was very supportive of the opportunity to help OPL in a variety of ways with its financial literacy programming.

One question for the library to choose is around having internal staff run workshops, bring in outside experts, or a combination of both. The amount of material an instructor needs to be familiar with is deep, and and it is important to be well trained and up-to-date as advice around financial matters has potentially huge impacts on people’s lives, and the downside from providing participants with wrong information is high. All of the instructors with CCCS are certified and have completed at least 90 days of training, testing and shadowing before speaking with clients.

To further explore how CCCS could be involved, Marco provided us with a menu of the workshops they offer (uploaded to the attachments section). Workshops cover such topics as, “Basics of Personal Finance”, “Building a Better Budget”, “First Time Home Buyer”, “College Financing 101”, “Understanding Credit”, and many more.

CCCS is happy to partner with other organizations. In this regard, Marco recommended that OPL pick complimentary providers, but to avoid not using two that provide the same services.

On courser design, Marco had a high level recommendation coming out of having looked at the programming of 1,500 providers. The approach he advocated for was to design the course for impact. That is, to think through what the desired outcome the library is seeking, and then design the course to achieve this impact. In thinking about the role of 1:1 counseling and the role of 1-off workshops, his feedback was to consider setting up the Program Delivery Model to include workshops plus 1:1 followup.

We discussed what metrics would be helpful to evaluate if the program is helping people. For the workshops, one metric is to gauge people’s confidence and content knowledge before and after a class. In this context, he reminded us that it is important to think about workshops different than service delivery, and that the metrics associated with success will be different. Workshops, Financial Counseling, Coaching, Planning and Products are all different services that complement each other, so should be evaluated and designed differently.

*Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation

** SFPL Grant, from

San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA

The San Francisco Public Library will integrate its programs, services and collections into the financial framework of the city by (1) making it a hub for financial education resources and activities at 28 neighborhood locations, (2) developing an online presence where residents can access high-quality, unbiased financial information, and (3) using social media to encourage the San Francisco community to take full advantage of the financial information and learning opportunities freely available to them. In partnership with the San Francisco Smart Money Network of financial education providers and the city’s Office of Financial Empowerment, the library will train its front-line staff on best-in-category financial information tools and resources suitable for use with the public. The library and its partners will also deliver a series of educational programs on general financial planning, financial recovery, saving and investing for retirement, estate planning and insurance topics.

Grant amount: $100,000

*** For example, ‘Building a Better Budget,

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