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Libraries as Financial Literacy Hubs [Update: Fall and Spring Workshops Planned]

Establishing an Effective Financial Literacy Program for the Patrons of Oakland Public Library

Photo of Trevor z Hallstein
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Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

This program will benefit the patrons of Oakland Public Library. Patrons will have the chance to learn skills and be exposed to tools that will help them with their financial goals. It could range from setting those goals to achieving existing goals. It will likely range from making a budget for setting aside $10 a week for a safety net, to building up a down payment, to getting started on a business idea, to planning out a 529 college savings plan to send kids to college.

How is your idea specifically using the power of communities to improve financial opportunities and resources?

Libraries are existing community spaces readily seen by the communities they serve as safe and trusted places to seek assistance. Libraries have a long history of providing services to their communities, from kids programs to adult literacy, and they appeal to a broad range of people. As a bonus .. libraries have the two core infrastructure elements needed to house this program: physical meeting spaces and computer access.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

A. There are a variety of analogs. We can look at and sit in on programs being taught at nearby libraries (San Francisco Public Library offers programs through and smart money @ your library, for instance); B. We can look at assessments of non-library programs offered to a similar set of constituents; C. We can teach a few small pilot courses.

What skills, input or guidance might you be seeking from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

A. Help refining the high level goals and philosophy ("To meet all library patrons at their current level of financial literacy and provide ongoing training and support") B. Help with strategy and design, for instance: Is OPL the right scope to start with? Too big or too small? What parts of the curriculum could be adopted versus need to be created (i.e., the age old build vs. buy question). C. Volunteers to teach some initial courses and gather feedback. D. Design and content expertise.

This idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm

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. 

2015.09Sep-25 Update - Financial Wellbeing Workshops Planned

Oakland Public Library received great news this week. Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco, the service provider the library hoped to partner with to anchor their financial literacy workshops, received an award that will allow them to run courses free of charge. With the City of Oakland being on a tight budget, and securing grant funding uncertain and a ways off, this is a fantastic development which is allowing the library to move ahead with getting nearly a dozen classes on the calendar across their various branches starting this fall and to further expand their role in the community as a trusted public resource for people seeking assistance with their financial wellbeing. One of the courses being planned: an "Identify Theft" workshop in early December - - we all remember what happened at Target during last year's shopping season!

Next up: Additional Design Thinking collaboration with the library involving ethnographic interviews and lightweight prototypes to gain insights into the needs of patrons around financial literacy and what leads to substantive outcomes.

2015.08August-05 Update - Mindblown Labs

Last week, the co-founder of Mindblown met with Oakland Public Library to discuss ways to work together. Mindblown is a game and discussion based platform aimed at young adults ( A couple of promising ideas came out of the meeting:

  • Teen services at the library has been looking for a group to partner with for teen financial literacy, and they were very excited to explore working with Mindblown.
  • On the adult side, the 2nd start program has many individuals reading at a 5th grade level, and they would like to explore Mindblown's platform.
  • Combing teens and adults, Mindblown and the library are curious to map out a course that would have parents and their kids engaged. Part of the thought here is that you can make a game for kids and reach parents.

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, ‘Basics of Personal Finance,

2015.05May-23 Update

On Friday I had an inspirational meeting with Jason Young, founder of MindBlown Labs ( ), which is based in downtown Oakland just blocks away from the Oakland Public Library. Their target audiences are teens and young adults.

"MindBlown Labs is an education technology company that creates highly interactive, experiential learning tools to empower young people to make better life decisions. Our first financial capability solution is Thrive 'n' Shine, a captivating mobile app/game that teaches teens and young adults about personal finance." 

Jason, on behalf of MindBlown, said they would be interested in helping out in a range of ways. He offered to help out playing a role as minimal as serving as an advisor to a larger undertaking of helping to create courses and "train the trainers" at Oakland Public Library. With specific regards to course offerings, his view is that there are three clear top priorities for young adults to understand: Budgeting, Earnings Power, Credit. His suggestion was to build a curriculum that covered these three skill areas to provide patrons with a baseline of knowledge. This would be in addition to the idea of having the courses be feeders into hyperlocal organizations relevant to each patron's specific needs, which he supported as an important role to play in order to introduce people to groups which could help them develop good habits and reach their goals, over a long period of engagement potentially spanning several years. The reasons for these three priorities are:

  • Budget
    • Budgeting is the basis for achieving nearly all finance-related goals
  • Earnings Power
    • Young adults generally do not appreciate how the level of education relates to lifetime earnings. For example, a high school graduate with no further education can expect to make $1 Million in their lifetime. A person with a higher level degree, for instance, a mediocre software engineer, can expect to make $5 Million in their lifetime. When young adults making choices about finishing high school or pursuing and advanced degree, they are not aware of the huge impact on their lifetime earnings power that they are making
  • Credit
    • Achieving most significant life goals require credit: buying a car, renting an apartment, buying a house, starting a business. Even less obvious ones involve credit: 40% of employers run credit checks.


Saundra Davis, Founder of Sage Financial Solutions ( ), spent some time with me on the phone this week. She helped set up the Financial Well-Being at South San Francisco Public Library ( ). Here are a couple of nuggets of advice and feedback from her:

  • There are lots of curriculum choices to draw from, so avoid spending time and money on recreating this.
  • The most important aspect of any financial literacy program will be that the instructors are well trained.
  • Having library staff run the programs or having outside groups come in and run the programs are both reasonable models. This is a choice that will need to be made by the library staff based on their interest and the library budget. 
    • What is the library's internal capacity, what are you trying to solve, what resources and partnerships make sense
  • Reality checks can be very painful. Instructors need to be prepared for the range of emotions that will emerge during sessions.
  • Suggested organizations to reach out to:

2015.05May-13 Updates

I met with the Mana Tominaga again, the Supervising Librarian at Oakland Public Library, and we came up with a tentative plan on how to proceed.  She was super-appreciative, enthusiastic, and supportive. Over the next few weeks the opportunity is to work on the course design & a short list of hyperlocal partners, and get ready to present the program at a library staff meeting.

  • Design 1-Hour Course:
    • First 1/2 hour: Build a budget and do a Needs Assessment
    • Second 1/2 hour: Connect people to Service Providers in the areas where they need and want followup
    • Initial Course Content: Focus on building a budget as part of the exercise 
  • Then:
    • Go through course with Oakland Public Library 2nd Start Staff
    • Pilot course at Main Branch
    • Offer course at other branches
  • Timeframes:
    • Develop Course Proposal and Short List of Local Providers, next 3-4 weeks
    • Staff meeting is 1x a month
    • Takes about 3 months lead time for a course to be put on the Library’s calendar
  • Steps to making it a permanent offering:
    • Standard non-profit grant funding elements
    • Evaluative Data that helps build a narrative: Quotes, Testimonials, Diversity & Demographics
      • How replicable is the course?
      • Is there a technology / data aspect? 
  • Partners
    • Mana encouraged the use of hyperlocal partners
    • Wants to know that the partners have capacity and that people referred to them will be accommodated and receive support.
    • Potential Partners are being tracked in this google doc

2015.05May-12 Updates

For this project, we're looking at programs at San Francisco Public Libraries to use as templates and to borrow best practices, and we're also speaking with local groups to see what collaborative opportunities might emerge. Below are the two latest updates on this outreach. Lastly, the Refinement Phase San Francisco Meetup is next week ( Thursday May 21st from 6PM to 9PM ) & I look forward to seeing lots of you there and getting in a good working session in person!

  • Pennies to Plans Program at SFPL (Yemila Alvarez| Community Engagement Manager San Francisco Public Library): “Pennies to Plans” is a series of workshops that we are offering as a result of the Smart Investing @ Your Library grant we were awarded. We’ve basically partnered with Consumer Credit Counseling Services of San Francisco to host Balance workshops at some of our branches. We’ve hired an outside evaluator to then evaluate the impact these workshops are having on the community, and to follow up with focus groups to see if what they learned at the library impacted their lives or changed their behavior after attending the program. We’re hoping to also develop an online gaming module that also teaches financial literacy concepts as a component of this project. It’s a relatively new program for us, and we’re still working out the best methods for getting the word out. I’m pretty booked this week, and will be out on leave until June 1st thereafter. Perhaps we can calendar something for the week of June 1st?
  • SparkPoint Centers ( Trevor: Two aspects of the SparkPoint site stood out to me: the recognition that change may take several years and the pairing up of clients with SparkPoint coaches. The video on your site is very moving. Christa@SparkPoint: Thanks, Trevor. I’d be happy to chat- it sounds like an exciting project. Unfortunately this week is a little rough for me. How about May 21st or 22nd?

User Scenarios:

  • Arcelia stops by the library to get some advice on filing her taxes from the tax prep program. She notices a flyer that reads, “Do you want to be more confident with your finances? Is dealing with your finances hard sometimes?” She thinks, “‘Sometimes!?’ It’s ALWAYS hard.”. The flyer indicates there is a workshop coming up on saving and budgeting and plans to go. She also sees that the course was prepared by and members of the Adult Literacy program at the library and this gives her some comfort that it will be down to earth, and not the confusing sales-pitch jargon she has experienced before. The next week she goes to the program. She and the other participants go through a series of exercises talking about their earliest memories of money, how they relate to money, and then talking about goals. Arcelia works at her own house cleaning business, and she sets the goal of saving enough money to buy a car. It seemed unrealistic before the class, but after going through it, she feels that emotionally and practically she can do it. 
  • Laurence stops by the library to check out some books on establishing a small business. He has been working with some friends moonlighting to repair computers and mobile phones. He sees a flyer for a personal finance course, and decides to check it out. Laurence is familiar with saving and making a budget, but his challenge is that he is an impulse shopper, and finds that he keeps missing his long term goals because the cash burns a hole in his pocket. At the course, he finds out that there is a weekly support group where participants talk about the emotional and practical things they learned from the workshop. He hasn’t done something like that before, but decides to give it a shot. It turns out to be exactly what he needed. He likes to meet and get to know people, and uses this ability to make connections to get the support he needs to deal with different financial matters in his life. After six months, he was able to save enough money to incorporate his business, establish a web presence, and best of all, he now periodically teaches the saving and budgeting course. The initial course and the ongoing support group helped him embrace the idea of making incremental shifts in habits.
  • Gloria is in the Adult Learners program, and when she meets with her mentor, she finds out that she could incorporate Financial Literacy into her learning. She has tried this before, but has always found it complicated. She doesn’t have any problem budgeting, but what confounds her is longer term planning and investing. Although her income exceeds her expenses, she never knows if she will enough to buy a house in a few years, send her kids to college, and eventually retire. At the next session, the mentor introduces her to a new way of understanding investing and milestones that integrates some data visualizations that really make it much easier to see out 5, 10, and 15+ years in a way that making lists and putting numbers into a spreadsheet hadn’t been able to bring to light for her. She sees that she is on track, but that after the downpayment from a house in 5 years, she is going to need to save more than she expected in order to meet her kid’s college needs. Knowing that, she starts thinking about ways to save even more money now, and making possible shifts in her career that would allow her to earn more.
  • Ken has been living around the poverty line for about six months, but recently has been making ends meet driving a taxi. One thing which he is worried about is what will happen to him if he has a crisis, because he does not have much of a support network and no savings. He spends a lot of time in the library since it is a safe and comforting place, and he likes to catch up on news and read magazines while he is there. He decides to attend a workshop at the library on saving and budgeting. He is very skeptical, since he barely earns enough money to make ends meet, but he knows he needs some sort of buffer in case he runs into a difficult patch. The mentor helps him go through his budget, and he sees that if he stopped drinking coffee, he would actually be able to save a couple of bucks every day. It doesn’t seem like much, but the instructor helps him see that saving $3-$4 every day will add up to $100 a month, and that in six months he could save $600. This puts a smile on his dial.

Why libraries?

  • Libraries are trusted community spaces: Libraries are a comprehensive network that are readily seen by the communities they serve as safe and trusted places to seek assistance, and libraries have a long history of providing services to their communities, from kids programs to adult literacy, they appeal to a broad range of people.
  • Libraries have suitable infrastructure: Libraries provide physical space for gathering and have computers for public acces. Bascially .. the two core elements needed to run an effective program. 

Why OPL?

  • The supervising librarian is open to trying new programs related to financial literacy
  • The bay area has a number of peers to collaborate with (San Francisco Public Library, Berkeley Public Library, South San Francisco Public Library)
  • I live in Oakland.

What is the guiding principle for the program?

  • To meet all library patrons at their current level of financial literacy and provide ongoing training and support.
  • I would love feedback on the mission statement.

Open Questions and Ideas

Well .. this whole thing is an idea, but the remainder are particularly ripe for brainstorming, so please jump in.


  • We start with the age old question, build or buy, or both?
    • What parts of a curriculum can be adopted from existing programs?
    • What parts of a curriculum are unique to Oakland and would need tailoring?
    • Who is going to teach the courses?
    • What is the value of a one-off session? Can a person learn anything helpful in just a few hours?
    • What program duration is needed for learning and change, and what kind of post-course support will be essential?

Support Network

  • How do we establish accountability? What approaches are there in addition to peer groups and mentors? Can there be virtual ways of providing support groups? 
  • How will we know if the program is successful?
    • Anecdotal stories
    • Recurring participation
    • Growth in class attendance
    • Badges
    • What data can be followed?

Who is the audience? How large is the audience?

  • Members of the adult learners program who choose to opt in
  • General patron base
  • Community members who have never visited the library (requires extra outreach)
  • We need to make the program multi-lingual

How is this going to be paid for?

What can OpenIDEO help with?

  • Look and Feel: Adding a fresh look to existing content and programs
  • Offer workshops on how to apply Human Centered Design principles to teachers and mentors

Existing Programs and Resources to Draw From

Additional Resources:

View more

Team (24)

Trevor z's profile
Jes's profile
Jennifer's profile
Jennifer Peterson

Role added on team:

"The Inspiration => Jennifer came up with the original idea!"

Hector's profile
Evan's profile
Joe's profile
Joe Silva

Role added on team:

"Human Service Delivery Expert"

Jared's profile
Jared Bybee

Role added on team:

"User Experience"

André's profile
André Fernandes

Role added on team:

"International Development & Design Thinking. Community Researcher for the Financial Empowerment Challenge."

Robert's profile
Robert Neetslah

Role added on team:

"Design Thinking"

Delilah Renee's profile
Delilah Renee Smith

Role added on team:

"Editorial writing, creative content, storytelling, Game of Thrones references."

Will's profile
Will Fung

Role added on team:

"Designing, developing, and marketing innovative and disruptive products."

Chris's profile
Chris Kang

Role added on team:

"Product Management"

Simona's profile
Simona Ioannoni

Role added on team:

"Connecting changemakers. Planning and execution. Social Media."

Ahmed's profile
Ahmed Rub

Role added on team:

"Startup, Strategy, Design Thinking, Humor"

Nupur's profile

Role added on team:


Shuai's profile
Shuai Chen

Role added on team:

"Creativity, Planning, Building Community, A Little Bit of Everything.."

Justin's profile
Justin Bean

Role added on team:

"Strategy, Marketing, and Sustainability"

Michael's profile
Michael Vargas

Role added on team:

"Creative Process and Discovery"

Luisa's profile
Luisa Fernanda

Role added on team:

"Human Centered Design, Impact Follow Through"

Lindsey's profile
Lindsey Boran

Role added on team:

"Human Centered Design"

Mike's profile
Mike Aaron

Role added on team:


Eliza's profile
Eliza Rosenbaum

Role added on team:


Jason's profile
Jason Rissman

Role added on team:


Silvie's profile
Silvie Hibdon

Role added on team:

"Human Centered Design"

Attachments (1)

CCCS Workshop Flyer.pdf

List of courses taught through Consumer Credit Counseling Service


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Photo of Jennifer Peterson

Fantastic to hear in the September update that workshops are planned and funding awarded! Bravo to all who have made this happen, especially Trevor! WebJunction looks forward to sharing the story after the workshops!

Photo of Sasha Stewart

Hello Trevor, I would love to connect and share some ideas on how you might grow your impact in the SS youth community.

Photo of Trevor z Hallstein

Hi Sasha - thanks so much! Looking forward to chatting.

Photo of Eric Tyler

Congrats Trevor -- great idea!

I thought you'd appreciate this: "Children’s museum hosts financial literacy day"

Photo of Trevor z Hallstein

Thanks for the acknowledgements and support everyone. The idea would never haven gotten this far without everyone's contributions. I'll be meeting with the Oakland Public Library over the next several weeks and working to get the programs introduced. Great stuff!

Photo of Justin Bean

Congrats Trevor, and nice work, team! Can't wait to see this become a full-blown reality! :)

Photo of Nicole Lopez-Conti

Congrats, Trevor & Team!

Photo of Tori Adele Signorelli

Congratulations Trevor!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel


Photo of Chrystie Hill

I just saw the note that this entry was selected as one of the top five. So excited! Congrats to Jennifer - and thanks for initiating the concept. Congrats to Trevor - and everyone who worked on this - and thanks for your effort to expand the initial concept into a concrete project. I would like to stay in touch on project learning / outcomes. As you're thinking about next steps and how to scale up and out to other communities, libraries, or other anchor/partner institutions, we'd love to get the word out to our audiences (mostly public library staff in the US) and/or support in other ways.

Photo of Jennifer Peterson

I wanted to be sure the folks at OpenIDEO are aware of this report from March 2014, from the Paul G. Allen Foundation:
Disrupting Poverty: Coming Together to Build Financial Security for Individuals and Communities

It addresses issues beyond this challenge, but still some excellent research and case studies.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Awesome update about meeting with Jason Young from MindBlown Labs/ Thrive 'n' Shine! Thinking about the group their work targets, teens and young adults, it would be good to get a sense on whether teens in particular are using the public library. My gut says not really but I may be wrong. If not, where are they? What community services are they using? Might a library program be executed elsewhere in the community?
Library programming extending into a community brings to mind a unique project at a community health center in East Harlem where I worked previously. The project brought library resources into the center itself. It was a collaboration between the health center and the New York Academy of Medicine Library and the NY Public Library. A resource space was set up within the health center and a librarian came in to offer assistance to patients and medical center staff - the idea being an onsite web based resource, an information source where patients accessed care.
Might a library extend financial literacy programming outside of the library into the community? Who might they collaborate with? Who would the target group be? Just thinking about different ways to use resources to reach those that need services.
Awesome work Trevor!

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Here is some recent research from the Pew Research Center on Younger Americans and Public Libraries: and here is other research they've done on libraries:

And yes, Bettina, libraries are engaging more with their communities outside the library or in innovative ways. This collection from an earlier Pew Report does a nice job of showcasing the range of services and activities:

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Great program covering a range of needs would be good to see this rolled out!

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It is heading in that direction. Thanks!

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This the contribution that came from the OpenIDEO meetup.
We have created a customer persona using the invaluable help of Jose and his family (They just started micro financing their project through Kiva), who shared their experience and gave us invaluable insights.

Our customer is Lupe, a 36yo single mother with three kids (5, 8,13). Lupe speaks only spanish and works as janitor everyday from 3pm to 11pm. During the morning, she takes her kids to school and cleans her house. Lupe wants to save money for her children’s college fund but she is not sure on how to do so. The Financial Literacy Program would be perfect for her, so: how can we reach out to Lupe to make her aware of the Financial Literacy Program?

Lupe goes to the church every Sunday and it is at the church, a place she trusts, that Lupe knows about the Financial Literacy Program held at the library. The pastor advises her and others to take part at the Financial Literacy Program. At the church that day Lupe also receives a flyer and a form she can fill to provide her information if she wants to participate at the Financial Literacy Program.

Someone from the library collects the forms and calls Lupe to register her for the Financial Literacy Program that suits her best (Tuesday from 11am to 1pm).

When Lupe arrives at the library for the Financial Literacy Program she receives a folder with her name and a questionnaire in spanish she can fill describing why she is taking the Financial Literacy Program and what are her financial concerns. In the questionnaire, she will be able to choose one or more of: A. Saving and Spending B. Loan and Credit Score C.How to earn more.
By choosing at least one of these topics and giving more information, the organizers will be able to address her to the right group for the first part of the lecture. During the second part of the Program Lupe can receive from the organizer information and contacts of professionals in her community that can help her.

From this scenario our group discussed that the major things to take in consideration while developing the Financial Literacy Program are:

1. Resources for children as well (both kids and high school age)
2. Creation of person profile
3. Chain of custody
4. Understanding the hubs
5. Language and culture
6. Categorizing information in order to filter the problem
7. Credibility in marketing material and communication (flyer, Facebook….)
8. Identify Advocates
9. Easy access to information
10. When and timeframe

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5. Language and Culture

Oakland's diversity ranges across a wide spectrum each with its own set of language, community involvement and sense of place. Outreach should be tailored to the intended audience's needs. Informational materials, ease of access and transparency.

7. Credibility in marketing material and communication

Materials should be sensitive to cultural needs and stigma associated with financial struggles. Language should be positive and all inclusive.

8. Identify Advocates
Various communities have a source of leadership that can establish credibility and trust between the different parties and could prove vital so people feel comfortable in attending.

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We're loving the fantastic collaborations here, Trevor and team! Trevor, in the upcoming weeks it'd be helpful to add some visual goodness to you idea by creating an experience map to describe some of the proposed activities you've outlines: outlined. I recall that you've touched base with Alper about some prototyping support during the early stage of the Ideas Phase. Perhaps you might be interested to reach out to see if Alper might be available to collaborate on the experience map? Looking forward to the next update!

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We were at the San Francisco Open IDEO meetup and role played Roy, a 34 year old with a lower-middle class family, and he happened across some old friends at the community center lobby outside where their kids were in a swimming class. Over the course of their conversation, the topic invariably started about their kids, family, and then evolved into a discussion about bills and financial difficultly given the context of their financial background (e.g. debt) and the needs of their children (e.g. college expenses). An important realization was the need to have a safe environment of trust in which the individual, Ray, who familiar with the financial literacy hub, would be comfortable sharing his financial difficulties and knowledge of a program without being judged since everyone had similar difficulties.

Roy and his wife Rhonda are at home talking about what to do on the weekend. Roy works two jobs and wants to have a low key weekend. His wife brings up their budget and how they can't do anything that would cost too much. The conversation then moves on to their children who are at the age when they have to start thinking about college and saving up for that. Rhonda, earlier in the day, was checking emails and on the neighborhood list serve she discovered information about financial literacy hub happening at the library. She suggests that they go to the library with the kids for a kids reading group happening the same time as the financial literacy class. They decide that going to the library with the kids will kill two birds with one stone, childcare and attending the program. Rhoda is a planner and is constantly thinking about the future and the children so programs to gain financial freedom and security are always on her radar. She wants to start planning for her family so that they don't feel overwhelmed with debt. After having the conversation with Roy, Rhonda feels supported and is optimistic about the future and they coordinate a plan to attend the event together.

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You folks were amazing. They should have you at every UXMap night to act out the narratives. It was really informative & I stepped away from the scenes with a shift in perspective to be able to better see what people might think and feel as they go through the prospective financial literacy program.

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I just ran into this and thought it might be a useful resource.

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It is so cool to see how much momentum you have going and to read the updates.
Great insight from Saundra Davis - "Reality checks can be painful and instructors need to be prepared for the range of emotions that come up." It just takes the whole project from theory to reality!
Jennifer posted several links to articles in her comment below about social workers being hired to work in libraries to assist homeless patrons. I wonder if a social worker might be an interesting co course leader for a financial empowerment course? Might their skill set be helpful in this context?

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This is a great idea - I look forward to following it through the process!

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Hello Team. Tonight there is a "Pennies to Plans" event at the San Francisco Public Library for anyone who is local and would like to go. I'm going to attend to continue to see what courses are offered in Libraries, who attends, and glean other insights. Drop me a note if you go as well & we can chat! This is the info: May-12 (Tuesday) Psychology of Spending SFPL 100 Larkin St. 6:30 to 7:30 PM

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Trevor, we recently came upon Jennifer's blog post about Public Libraries as Financial Literacy Hubs. It's fantastic! Check it out here:

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And you might interested to check out this post on a new skillshare program in the Brooklyn Public Library:

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Hi. I posted the research post Shane linked above on the Education for Refugees Challenge. Funny when I was on the Brooklyn Public Library Skillshare website I noticed that the library is having a Financial Empowerment Fair this Saturday. Not sure if this event functions as a springboard for ongoing programs. I also wanted to share that the Knight Foundation ran a challenge -
“How might we leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities?" and it is there that I saw the Bklyn Skillshare Idea posted. Lots of innovative library based projects described.

Reading your conversation with Jennifer below I might ask whether the financial literacy group is started in the library, or the library can be a place where a group that may form outside decides to meet and learn together? One interesting idea from the Knight Challenge was a peer to peer learning program where learners doing online programs are brought together into a library for study groups to enhance their learning. (Apparently many MOOC programs have high drop out rates due to isolation.)
Your discussion just got me thinking that there are different ways for patrons of a library to come together and utilize services and programming as groups.

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Hi Bettina,

I was browsing the OpenIEO site and had read some of your past idea and research posts a few weeks ago, and I really appreciated your insights around prior challenges.

Are you thinking of going to the Brooklyn Library Financial Empowerment Fair? I would be curious what curriculum and tools they use as the backbone to the programs. One thing I noticed in their description, is that it is very broad .. from managing credit history to financing college. One of the opportunities around running programs through the library is how to appeal to the different audiences, and how to make the courses relevant to them. There will be some overlapping appeals and courses, but it may be that the patrons are segmented in their needs (low income folks might need help with budgeting and accountability, whereas as middle-class folks might need help on financing a home purchase).

Knight list is great. If they have another round of grants, it'd be good to apply for some funding related to financial literacy. I notice in scanning the recipients, none of the projects are around financial empowerment. Your observations about the peer to peer learning from the Knight list would broadly apply to all people working on something where they wanted a community group and accountability, so that would could be tapped into for financial empowerment related initiatives. I watched the last video on MOOC and P2P, and sent a message to see what, if any, financial empowerment materials or experiences they have to share at this point. I am not an educator, but I do sense the speaker's views on face to face learning & getting nudges and support from others in the group are accurate. Online courses are good if you want to learn a new skill, but if you are also trying to learn new behaviors, then I think you need the completeness of in person activities. The video also highlights the challenge / opportunity of a 1-off talk versus a series. I suspect the 1-off talks are helpful for piquing people's interests, but for substantive learning and change, series are needed.

I don't know how many extra cycles you have, but if you are interested in being added to the libraries as literacy hubs idea team I'd love to include you. Some of the things coming up in the next few weeks are user & experience maps, understanding the library patrons, evaluating and selecting existing curriculum options, and working on a data visualization toolkit for parts of the curriculum which could use a visual re-boot ( ). If not, it would be great to continue to benefit from your informal observations! Thanks.

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That's great. I hadn't seen the New York Public Library materials referenced, so I added them to the list of possible curriculums to draw from along with a brief assessment:

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The skillshare program is intriguing, and it would be interesting to see what kinds of expertise patrons are trying to check out to get a sense for what the categories of needs and interests are.

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Hi Trevor. Thanks for the kind words. Glad you liked the Knight Foundation link!

I did not go to the fair at the library. Your questions about it are good. I think it is really important to know who the audience is. In NYC there are many small local library branches. I don't know but I would think they would gear programming to the local neighborhoods. What is your plan for the program you want to develop? Are you going to try to narrow down a user group? Who would the facilitators be? Is it a librarian, or someone that comes in from the outside?
Thanks for inviting me to the team. I can't commit to do tasks ahead of time here. I also am not very knowledgable in this area. Would love to continue the conversation though and if I can help I will. The data visualization toolkit sounds great! Looking forward to seeing what happens with that!
Let us know what the P2P say about having any financial literacy modules. I like their approach.

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Good questions .. I am going to try to get a handle on the user segments at the Oakland Public Library this week & to be honest, I'm not sure who would teach the programs. I think the strongest model would be to collaborate with organizations whose mission is financial literacy/decision making, but I'm still looking through who offers what out in the bay area. Another user (Joe Silva) posted some great information on doing a needs assessment. Gotcha on the bandwidth issue! Let's keep it informal. I posted a note to P2PU on their facebook page,

"Hi Trevor - thanks for getting in touch, and sorry about the bouncing email.
We're keen to speak to people who are working with other libraries and communities, and are hosting the conversation on our forum here:

Get in touch and hopefully we can connect you with others.
Libraries Topics - Discussions at P2PU
Interested in reimagining libraries as a space for online learning? Have something to share? Please join the conversation!

So I posted there, but haven't heard back yet,

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What kind of organizations have that mission - financial literacy?

It might be worth looking at some other approaches, like tech products, and perhaps see what the appeal is, and how they approach teaching? I posted about PlayMoolah. The product is a group of apps for children, families and young adults. using gaming. I like the language they use to frame the approach - placing values at the center of the conversation. "How we can earn, save, invest, spend, and give in a way that allows us to live our dreams and create more value in the world? PlayMoolah has developed a framework to outline the 5 Pillars of Money to guide a holistic view of how money can be stewarded through different behaviors."
They have a product for young adults that simulates real life experiences - saving for a car etc.
Jason posted a product called Thrive and Shine which combines an app with a community component.
Not sure how these products might integrate with a library program but might there be learnings here on how to approach the conversation?

I will check out Joe's comment about doing a needs assessment as well.

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You've clearly made a lot of progress zooming in on options for the curriculum - impressive!

I checked out the 4 that you rated as "medium" or "high" potential, and I was surprised to see that two of them - "Secret Millionaires Club" and "Money as you Grow" - cater to children. Upon reading your initial synopsis above, I didn't get the impression that kids were a target audience; I interpreted library patrons to be adults, but perhaps that was my misunderstanding? That's not to say that the curriculum couldn't ultimately be flexible enough to accommodate young and old, but I imagine that you'll need to pick a clear age group at the start in order to craft the most effective message. The image of the program is critical; the cartoons from "Secret Millionaires Club" and the dry, professional approach of "Money Matters Pro" are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

While it's certainly possible to extract the content of these options without using their corresponding mascots/marketing (the site of "Project Money" in particular would need a facelift to be an attractive interface!), I think the underlying issue of which demographic you pursue is closely tied to the distinct personalities of these curriculum choices. Many people have referenced the stigma around financial literacy among adult populations, and my concern with anything that seems juvenile would be that it repels patrons who might be interested but fear being seen as too old to learn.

Based on the vision your original description conjured up in my mind, I see the tone and subject matter of "Money Matters Pro" as most relevant. My two cents!

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Thanks. I reached out to mindblown labs from your second post to get their thoughts on piloting something at Oakland Public Library as they are Oakland-Based. One concern I have around virtual training is that the dropout rates for traditional online courses and programming are quite high ( ). It may be that playmoolah's 'honesty circles' creates a nice peer-group way to improve the chances for change and success ( ).

RE: "What kind of organizations have that mission - financial literacy?", here's one:

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Hi. Thanks for the feedback. A big step as you've pointed out is mapping the program to the audience, and yeah, I should add a section to the assessment for 'library potential' to include the audience and put 'young adults' by the two you mentioned to make that clearer.

One thing I'm grappling with is .. "what works". Another OpenIDEO user posted this great synopsis about the effectiveness of programs: with the key part being this blog post,

I suspect that introducing a 'curriculum' and teaching 'financial literacy' is going to have limited improvements for the participants without us playing with adding an emotional angle, chipping away at some structural issues, and having support groups. This program I think seems to do a nice job in putting financial literacy in the bigger framework of teaching decision making skills,

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I wrote to the folks at Thrive-n-Shine and we're gonna chat. They're based in Oakland which is helpful. I tried playing the game on my iPhone. Need to give it a few more shots to see how it might be able to be incorporated. I wrote on your post directly that I liked the 'honesty circles' part of playmoolah since "My sense is that incremental shifts in behavior require something above and beyond learning the mechanics of the 5 pillars of money, a corresponding emotional shift, and the honesty circles seem like a way to create that connection within yourself and with others."

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Hi Trevor. Congratulations on moving into refinement with your project!
Seems like there are a few directions this can go in. One would be to select a target group to choose or build a curriculum for. Another would be to think about the library as a resource and perhaps create an open study time for this topic, present many resources and have a facilitator or teacher that can help patrons choose what will work for them individually? Maybe facilitate study groups? Looking forward to hearing what feedback you have from the local librarian and patrons there. The what works question is interesting. There are so many target groups and also what are the parameters of "works"?

Will be interesting to hear about your conversation with the creators of Thrive-n-Shine. I wonder what some of the current offline projects are that they are doing in communities.
Re: Playmoolah - I think the idea of honesty circles definitely serve a purpose in terms of support as folk move through a process. Might be a model to look at as an interesting add on to a program.

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Just checked out the P2P link. Did you see the note they posted to you?.

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Yes - thx. The Financial course posted is for accounting, so not quite suitable, but I will update curriculum resources I've come across to the thread as they suggested.

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So pleased this contribution has made it to the refinement phase! I look forward to hearing how Trevor's meeting with OPL went.

I also want to share that we recently learned about a national initiative in Romania which involves public libraries. The bulk of this info was provided by the program coordinator. Visa Europe entered into a partnership with libraries to "deliver basic financial information to the Romanian consumers beginning in 2012 with BaniIQ (MoneyIQ) and further evolved in 2014 with a complementary e-commerce programme, Baniipenet (MoneyOnline).

"Both MoneyIQ and MoneyOnline benefit from the support of the largest network of public libraries, Biblionet. People from urban, but mostly rural areas get trained in public libraries. Each month thousands of people receive training both offline in schools, public libraries and online on dedicated training apps that are also available on Facebook.

"We are making every endeavour to deliver basic financial literacy and e-commerce information to 1 million people by 2017."

Librarians representing 9 counties were involved in "train the trainer" sessions, then they trained librarians in their counties, who then provided training to patrons.

I believe topics include: financial planning, organizing personal budgets, using the Internet for financial services, as well as savings or investments.

From this article:
"Libraries are again active centers and involved in their community as they offer greater access to relevant information. We are happy to develop a new partnership that uses the resources of public libraries in Romania to reach local communities. We thank those of Visa Europe initiative and hope to see this project replicated in as many libraries around the country," said Paul-Andre Baran, director of the Libraries.

Here is a link to the online training portal (English version too):

Exciting to see something implemented at a national scale!

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That is cool. I went through the introductory exam.

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So happy to see this work advancing through the process. I heard a representative from the Visa -Romania project speak at a digital inclusion conference a few years ago and was blown away by the way they talked about libraries as partners in their work. I thought It was a great example of public+private investment in an area where public+private interests align. Good luck developing these ideas.

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Congratulations on making it to the Financial Empowerment Challenge Refinement phase, Trevor! We have been blown away by your deeply human-centered approach and your commitment to this idea, and we’re excited to see how it continues to build momentum in the last phase of the challenge.

We’re looking forward to hearing how your meeting with the Oakland Public Library librarian goes this week – we’re sure the community will be interested in hearing any insights that emerge! We’d also love to hear more about the SF Public Library program and what you’ve been talking to them about. Are there community members in this program that you can talk to that will help you identify what users liked and didn’t like? How can you use their work and community members to build on your plan? Also, what do you think it would look like to focus on a particular target audience? And how could these participants build a network for support and further innovation? You’ve raised (and answered) some fantastic questions and shared some good ideas for analog experiments – how might you and your team actually try something out in the coming weeks? We’ve really enjoyed seeing you in action and are excited to see what new developments and iterations we can unlock in the Refinement phase! Don’t forget to check out our Resources page ( and these tips for Refinement (, too.

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Hi TeamLib! I just wanted to give you a heads up that I’m gonna be traveling for the next 10 days so there’ll be a lull in activity. I’m working on setting up a meeting with the OPL librarian on May 8 or May 9. There’s a handful of folks on the team in the bay area, so I’m hoping we can meet up in person around then as well and go over some of the possible curriculum choices, some data visualization improvements we might want to look into, financial literacy programs at other bay area libraries that we could leverage, and other organizations that teach financial literacy that we could leverage. An inspirational program and set of resources that came out of SF Pub Lib is project money. I’ve been in touch with them about the program and need to circle back when I return ( and ).

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I love how this idea utilizes locality. It's a great example of how we should always start, and pay attention to the needs and resources within the immediate vicinity of the community we are attempting to assist.

Libraries are obvious resources, but only to some. I want to echo Charlie's point below. They seem like the perfect physical place to hose communities (in the US) for this challenge, but not all who attend the OPL will want and/or need your hub.

How can we use the library as a cost effective place to attract and host the most disadvantaged community members? Perhaps the library is most useful for gathering information and performing a needs assessment about the financial needs of the community; where you start to develop your curriculum. Based on the turnout, you'll be able to decide if the library is where this idea should shake out, or what form it should take.

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Hi Joe,

One of the challenges I'm trying to think through is how to make the curriculum relevant. One thing which was done at San Francisco Public Library, is that they had members of the adult literacy group develop a financial literacy program, so the content is tied closely to what those patrons need, The four main topics they have come up with are saving money, bank accounts, credit cards, and income tax. Unfortunately, in speaking with the coordinator at the library for this program, it was a limited time grant and they haven't been able to update the materials or website recently. He also pointed out that this curriculum is specific to the adult learners, but may not apply to the general patron base. I am interested in how you would suggest going about a needs assessment. Do you have experience in this and what do you think would be the big questions to get to the heart of?

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Hey Trevor.

Yes, I do have experience conducting needs assessments. There are various forms depending on what you're looking for. For this situation, and in most cases, we can view the needs assessment as an opportunity to amplify the voice of the community; and provide the platform for them to figure it out themselves. I would avoid questions that yield yes or no answers, and keep it simple but around the theme (personal finance). For example "tell us your story", "what is holding you back?", "what would help?" Loose and open ended questions will help you gather sufficient qualitative data from multiple sources (librarians, children, teens, young adults, adults, etc.), and you'll have a better understanding of the big picture and the community's immediate needs. Then you code and synthesize your findings, which should serve as a detailed reference for a co-constructed curriculum.

My idea and yours would coincide nicely. We should probably team up - shoot me an email, if you're interested in diving in further.

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Hi Joe .. Your insights around self-empowerment and creating a knowledge transfer are great & I'd love to keep up the collaboration. One question I'm working through is what are the different segments of people who would take a library course and trying to identify existing curriculums that would be relevant to them. Thanks for the overview on needs assessment .. This week I'm going to see if I can get a few folks to help out with this and/or see what insights the staff at the Oakland Public Library may already have.

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Just getting caught up on all the great work going on here! (I was on a trip with a group of Girl Scouts last week...)

I did hear from a colleague who had a conversation with someone from the American Library Association who provided some insights that might be helpful here. She noted that there seems to be no shortage of existing financial literacy programs and products for libraries, but that there is an existing gap, in that the people who could most benefit from the existing financial literacy opportunity are not necessarily interested in financial literacy education (FLE) and/or are not looking to libraries for FLE programs or products. The ideas that came up were perhaps a marketing campaign akin to the Geek the Library campaign ( or a convening of different players at local and/or national levels to identify what’s working, what’s not, and how best to progress. Then there’s the outstanding question of—is any of this working and how/who can prove whether it is or not—which highlights the need for developing measurement and assessment of FLE programs and products.

So both the questions about needs assessment and those about measuring impact are huge.

I wonder if the role of the library in this area, as it is in many other facets of information needs, is to provide a selection of FLE options, through a referral platform, perhaps with a way for users to rate the tools or recommend based on what specific financial need they are exploring. Again, leveraging the library as trusted and unbiased community organization, people could be made aware of the library's financial literacy referral services. Maybe this is a marketing issue, more than recreating the curriculum wheel?

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Awesome. I'd love to continue collaborating. Staff definitely have insight into some of the most needy populations; the homeless tend to use public libraries as it is free to enter, warm and there are newspapers, etc. and computer access for those who use computers. I wonder if librarians have a system for engaging the homeless re: financial lit, or with teaching them to use the many other resources in the library?

Looking forward to seeing where this goes and contributing further. Let me know how I can help.

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A number of libraries in the bay area have added social workers to their staff as the libraries have emerged as a resource for them. I'm not sure what the staff's approach to engagement and outreach is though .. something for me to look into. I’m meeting with the Oakland Public Librarian again this weekend, and hope to talk to her about doing a needs assessment and getting some further insights from patrons on what they would like to learn & how they would like to learn it.

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I've been collecting press coverage of libraries using social workers in serving patrons experiencing homelessness:
Homeless People Need Libraries, and Libraries Need Them, Too -
How Libraries Are Adapting To Help Homeless Find Jobs, Health Services - Huffington Post
From nurses to social workers, see how public libraries are serving the homeless - PBS Newshour
Edmonton Public Library Adds Homeless Outreach to Five New Branches - Library Journal
A Little Extra Help – Why Public Libraries Need Social Workers - Public Libraries Online
D.C. adds a social worker to library system to work with homeless patrons - Washington Post
Public Libraries Add Social Workers and Social Programs - The New Social Worker

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Your question about 'Is any of this working?' is really key. Before introducing and advocating for a program at Oakland Public Library, I certainly would want to see what has been effective. A traditional approach certainly seems to have limited effectiveness as Jared highlighted in his post,, the key bit being this blog post,

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Great foundational idea of trying to leverage the libraries. I have a few thoughts:
- My experience is that a significant portion library patrons represent part of the population that needs financial training and services. So +1 for targeting the right place.
- I wonder how else libraries might be re-conceptualized as places for offering services and training
- I am a big skeptical of the value of financial education by itself ( - is there a way to offer it in connection with some other service or organizing tool?
- Partner offering could be - VITA - the volunteer income tax assistance? Or the development of lending circles? Or IDA - individual development account - programs?

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Hi Jared,

Your submission and Lauren Willis's blog post do highlight a concern I have. In my efforts to find curriculums and programs that could serve as template, I have gravitated towards those which include emotional, psychological, and analytical elements as simply teaching the nuts and bolts seems inadequate for lots of the reasons brought up by Willis. This program I found (actually suggested by the librarian at Oakland Public Library seems to have a good framework), For instance, take one of their principles: "Business education programs teach decision-making skills that help corporate executives maximize their resources. GTA takes those same concepts and applies them to the life changing decisions young people make as they transition into adulthood."

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This idea would not only benefit those seeking to improve their financial literacy, but it will also revamp interest in public libraries in the day of the internet. I would be very interested in seeing what the outcome is in a program like this, and I would also be interested in getting involved. Keep up the great work!

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Hi Teamfrcc .. thanks for the positive encouragement. I am hoping to continue to gain insights on the needs of the library patrons, existing curriculms that could meet those needs, and to chat with the library staff about what would need to happen to bring it to life. Soon it will be helpful to go through an experience map (as Shane posted below). Do you have a sense for what aspect interests you and how you might like to get involved?

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Hi Everyone,

The supervising librarian at Oakland Public Library provided me with a list of resources to evaluate. I went through them and have provided some feedback which I summarized in the google doc linked to below. I'd love to get people's thoughts on what programs would be good candidates to use for a curriculum backbone.

PS .. who is Anonymous Grizzly?

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One community hub can be the banks themselves. When someone without online banking access or a smartphone cashes a check, the teller can hand them a a card with a quick savings recommendation or tip. One of these cards can give the opportunity to get a free smart phone with a financial app already installed that only includes the most basic and pertinent features for financial literacy/improvement.

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Building outreach and creating awareness around financial literacy options available to people is certainly something to consider. Do you have some ideas around how your idea of creating awareness through banking activities would tie into leveraging libraries?

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Hey Trevor,

I found your idea clever and the clear structure you use to delineate associated sub-thoughts highly thought-provoking. By zooming in on the specific example of OPL as a potential pilot project, you set parameters that turn a largely abstract concept of community financial empowerment into a concrete case study (you even know the mindset of the supervising librarian!). As you posit in the opening, whether the universe of OPL is too large or too small is tricky to determine at this early stage, but your framework of follow-up questions and challenges to your initial premise are helpful tools, so thank you for sharing a methodology that will no doubt help organize my idea.

There were 3 points that stood out to me. Firstly, I'm wondering if the target audience of "library patrons" is too self-selecting in the sense that, presumably, people who have already taken the initiative to join OPL and seek knowledge within its walls are not the ones most in need of financial empowerment, as the prompt states. This may be a totally false assumption on my part, but my instinct is to suggest that a concerted effort must be made to attract the people in the greatest need. While existing patrons would certainly benefit from additional financial assistance, the marginal impact is lower compared to people who have never stepped foot in a library prior.

The next two thoughts are in response to questions you pose. The first: "Can there be virtual ways of providing support groups?" This question - for any idea - will be of central importance in order to maximize the limited reach that in-person knowledge sharing can have. In the case of OPL, it's particularly apt given that your fundamental reason for proposing it (and libraries more generally) is that they are "trusted community spaces" how do we introduce complementary virtual means of enhancing impact without inadvertently rendering the physical space irrelevant? Or is that an actual concern? If the virtual tool is able to adequately achieve the goal of empowerment, having first used the library site as ground zero for early adopters, does it matter if the actual library ultimately fades from the picture?

Finally, the second question that struck me - again, due to its universal resonance - was: "How will we know if the program is successful?" In addition to your great suggestions, perhaps a referral system could serve as a metric: if a participant refers someone, it is a sign that he/she sees value in the content; then on the flip side, if the referred person ultimately commits to the program, it validates the value of the content once again. This could tie in nicely with the "badge" concept you reference. The sub-question you raise of what data can be followed is an interesting one because, ideally, in addition to qualitative assessments of success, you would be able to incorporate, for example, before-and-after figures from participants' personal financial histories, or even a simple quiz at the end of modules, to document progress.

This reply turned out much longer than expected. Thanks again for sharing, and I hope this is helpful in some way to continue the conversation!


Photo of Trevor z Hallstein

Hi Charlie,

Excellent thoughts. Thanks. I integrated your comment about reaching out to folks outside of the current patron base. I think the virtual space could be an excellent complement, it makes me think that perhaps looking at some tools like yammer or slack could be helpful for creating groups. Based on some ideas of another idea, it might be helpful even to have automated text messages go out in the mornings that remind people of their remaining budget for the month, to prompt them to think twice about a purchase, for instance. I think that something to do around metrics would be to come up with a simple quiz (like, "Are you comfortable with your safety net?", "Do you have a budget in place") and track the trend over time. It's important to get feedback like this I think to evaluate if the program is truly helping people and how could it be better (in addition to human centered design interviews with people, of course ;-)

Thanks again for the great thoughts.

Photo of Jennifer Peterson

Interesting to think about whether or not creating groups (virtual or f2f) would work, based on the sensitivity around personal finance information and habits. It seems like Project Money has been successful because cohorts were already gathering together for basic literacy needs and so had likely built some trust before venturing into the more personal nature of finance. I like the idea of making an app that would be available for the individual to track their own personal budgets (and for the system to track some sort of metrics of success as Charlie suggests), complemented with the information services provided by the library in a safe and trusted f2f setting, ideally with a community of other patrons tackling the same sorts of financial issues.

Photo of Trevor z Hallstein

Hi Jennifer,

That's a great point about Project Money starting with a group of people who already had familiarity with each other. I suspect there are already tools to track your budget (e.g., but what may perhaps be lacking in those and may be part of what you are suggesting is to include a peer group or support group aspect to help people be accountable to the goals they have set for themselves. Could you elaborate on how you could see a community of patrons coming together who are tackling similar financial issues? Did you have in mind that they would come together through classes and programs and working together? I'm wondering what will bring them together, and what will be the personal incentives that keep people socially engaged and collaborating with each other.

Oh .. can you think of anyone who would be good to reach out to to add to this team on OpenIDEO? It'd be helpful to have some folks local to the SF Bay Area to help with curriculum, interviews, design, and other early aspects of exploring this further.

Photo of Shane Zhao

Very glad to see this idea emerge from the research phase Trevor! We love how you've posed a lot great questions and assumptions to test out as this idea progresses. In going forward, it'd be great to start thinking about what the end to end experience might feel like for a user that's participating in this program. How would the experience of a OPL Financial Literacy hub be unique from other financial education programs? What's would the peer to peer interactions feel like for a user? What would incentivize patrons to come back? To test out some of these assumptions it'd be great to flesh out this idea in a story format - this way, our community will be able to experience how this idea will work in a very intuitive way.

It might be helpful to use one of these human-centered design methods to iterate forward!
Experience Map:
User Scenario:

Photo of Shane Zhao

Great to have you at the Meetup Trevor! Take a look at the user scenarios and experience maps in these two top ideas from our previous Youth Employment Challenge. They started by creating clear user scenarios before evolving into more systemic ideas later on in the Refinement Phase of the challenge.

One Day Experience

Millennial Techcorp

Photo of Trevor z Hallstein

I'll get right on it! Thanks.

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