A Pro-Active Solution to the Number One Challenge Nebraskan’s Face Regarding the Perception of Poverty: The Lack of Training and Education.
The SENCA SMART SAVE (Southeast Nebraska Community Action Strategic Money and Resource Techniques Students Attain Valuable Education) financial literacy program was developed in the spring of 2011 as a pro-active solution to the number one concern regarding the Perception of Poverty...the lack of training and education. The program began during the 2011/2012 school year as a trial program for 8th and 12th grade students in Richardson and Pawnee county schools. Logic models were created for each grade level identifying the need, projecting an outcome, utilizing a measurement tool (all students are given a pre-test and a post-test on basic financial literacy skills), and state the mission of each program level. The program will be offered to participating schools throughout the SENCA service area in 2012/2013.
Community Action of Nebraska launched the 2010 Community Assessment Survey in May 2010, mailing 10,000 surveys to residents across Nebraska. The purpose of the five year study, funded by the State of Nebraska’s Community Service Block Grant Discretionary funds, is to discover the most pressing challenges Nebraskans face so that Community Action agencies will be better equipped to address those chal¬lenges. With an overwhelming 40% response rate, SENCA and other agencies were able to utilize the information and be pro-active in developing programs such as SENCA SMART (Strategic Money and Resource Techniques) to help alleviate concerns such as “The Lack of Training and Education” listed under Perception of Poverty.
Perceptions about Poverty
The Community Assessment Survey asked respondents to identify what they believe causes poverty. Overall, respondents said that the causes of poverty were: lack of training and education (56%); low motivation (51%); drug abuse and addiction (37%); single parent households (37%); and not enough jobs (35%).
- For households earning less than $25,000, the top causes of poverty are
- Lack of training/education,
- Not enough jobs, and
- single parent households (low motivation ranked 4)
- For households earning more than $35,000, the top causes of poverty are
- Lack of training/education,
- Low motivation, and
- Drug abuse/addiction.
Components of SENCA SMART
The SENCA SMART SAVE Financial Literacy Program is broken down in the following sections. Participating schools have the option of utilizing one or all sections of the program offered through the following SENCA SMART partners:
Poverty Simulation—Students, school staff, and individuals from participating communities are invited to interact in a simulation that is provided by the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension. This opportunity allows participants to experience in one 3 hour event what families who deal with poverty face each day. Participants engage in open discussions on how alternative and pro-active solutions can be found within their own communities to assist financially challenged individuals and families achieve financial independence.
Wells Fargo “Hands on Banking” - The financial literacy curriculum utilized which meets the Nebraska State Standards of Education. The classes are presented in 4 to 5 classroom sessions by a trained SENCA Family Development Specialist (FDS). The classes focus on the areas of Checking and Savings, Budgeting (creating a personal spending plan), Credit (understanding what credit is and its personal impact), and the importance of Education and how it effects jobs and earning capacity.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Omaha Branch - The Travelling Trunk is an opportunity for students to gain an understanding of how banking works, the role of the Federal Reserve Bank and how it affects the Nation’s economy. Trips for 12th grade students to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City are scheduled as funding opportunities are available.
Students Benefit from SENCA SMART
8th Grade Students projected outcome is to demonstrate an understanding of the value of money, create a budget to ensure their ability to plan for future financial security, and open or increase a savings/checking account. The mission is: To provide youth with tools to understand the value of money and impact of choices made.
12th Grade Students projected outcome is to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the value of money and credit management and be able to create a personal spending plan to ensure their ability to plan for future financial security. The mission is: To provide young adults with tools to understand the value of money management in the process of obtaining financial independence.
Evaluating the Program
Pre-Tests and Post-Tests - All participating students are given a Pre-test and a Post-test of the Hands on Banking Curriculum. These test scores help measure the overall success of the program and if students are retaining valuable information needed to become financially independent.
During the 2011/2012 pilot year, results indicated an overall increase in approximately 70% of the test scores received for participating students in Pawnee and Richardson county schools.
When evaluating the program, 73% of the 351 students who participated in the pilot program completed an evaluation form with the following results:
- 74% of the students surveyed rated the Poverty Simulation as being Beneficial to Very Beneficial.
- 81% of the students surveyed rated the SENCA SMART PROGRAM overall as Helpful to Very Helpful.
Brochure on the SENCA SMART SAVE program
A brochure is available for parents/guardians or other interested individuals regarding the SENCA SMART SAVE financial literacy program. The brochure can be accessed by clicking here.
SENCA SMART INVEST – Adult Financial Literacy
SENCA SMART INVEST is a 6 hour presentation utilizing the Hands on Banking curriculum for adults. Class times and schedules vary depending on the need in each county. If interested, please contact your local SENCA outreach office and speak with the trained Family Development Specialist.
SENCA SMART SAVE...Making a difference for southeast Nebraska Students!
On Monday, September 17th, approximately 90 8th grade students, along with members of the Falls City Public and Sacred Heart schools staff and administration, and a host of volunteers from the Falls City community, collaborated with Southeast Nebraska Community Action (SENCA) and the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension to participate in a Poverty Simulation.
On Monday, September 17th, approximately 90 8th grade students, along with members of the Falls City Public and Sacred Heart schools staff and administration, and a host of volunteers from the Falls City community, collaborated with Southeast Nebraska Community Action (SENCA) and the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension to participate in a Poverty Simulation. The Simulation is in conjunction with the SENCA SMART SAVE - Strategic Money and Resource Techniques Students Attain Valuable Education, financial literacy program presented through SENCA to area 8th and 12th grade students.
SENCA SMART was developed in the spring of 2011 as a pro-active program to help with the number one challenge facing Nebraskan's in relation to the perception of poverty, a lack of training and education.