Menlo Tapped for its Expertise in Financial Literacy Curriculum

Attendees at the community groups meeting at Menlo College (from left to right): Catherine Reeves, Vice President of Advancement; Nicole Ramos of BUILD; President Jim Kelly; Professor Donna Little, Janine Razo of PIQE; Mildred Dumeng, Executive Director of PIQE; Jenny Flores, Director for Northern California and Central Valley, Citi Community Development; Aileen Nafrada, Citibank Branch Manager, Woodside/Atherton; Instructor Frances Turner.

September 13, 2011

Last week, four community groups joined Menlo College leaders and global banking and financial services company Citi on the Menlo campus. The purpose was to discuss opportunities to partner in valuable, targeted outreach to the broader northern California region on behalf of financial literacy. The gathering, co-led by Professor Donna Little, Director of Menlo's Center for Financial Literacy (CFL), and Jenny Flores, Director for Northern California and Central Valley, Citi Community Development, centered around Professor Little’s ground-breaking financial literacy course, and opportunities for getting critical information out by these community groups to the people that need it the most.

“The bank has a commitment to share, expand and leverage knowledge. We are very interested in empowering people,” said Jenny Flores, Citi Community Development. Citi, which is funding a highly innovative financial literacy program at Menlo for the second consecutive year, had previously provided funding to launch the Center for Financial Literacy and to initiate the Learn and Invest for Tomorrow (LIFT) program, a financial literacy pilot program for high school seniors and college freshmen, on the Menlo College campus. “We’re looking for innovative ways to expand our reach to important populations. We must continue to think outside of the box,” added Flores.

The four nonprofits represented included Redwood City-based BUILD, which helps low-income high-school students; San Francisco-based Juma Ventures, which offers a youth development and employment program; San Diego-based PIQE (Parent Institute for Quality Education), which educates parents on how to foster academic achievement in their kids; and UC Merced’s Center for Educational Partnership.

“There are golden opportunities for partnerships between these nonprofits and their missions and what we’re doing here at Menlo College,” said Catherine Reeves, Menlo College’s Vice President for Advancement.

Professor Little gave a presentation on her work and discussed how she has been disseminating the course by giving seminars at different organizations. Her next step, said Little, is to train students who have gone through her class to offer training themselves. In addition, she said, there need to be systems in place to track the progress of these programs and how successful they are in assisting people.

The meeting concluded with all groups indicating their interest in following up this initial brainstorm with another meeting to determine next steps.

Learn more about Menlo and Citi financial literacy initiatives on the Center for Financial Literacy and Citi Community Development websites.