Many churches and faith-based nonprofits are adding financial literacy to their outreach services. In addition to the traditional food and clothing distributions, these organizations offer classes on banking, budgeting, debt reduction, credit education and more for parishioners and community members.
As Pastor Mark Whitlock noted, “We believe that the church is more than a place of spiritual salvation. It must include financial salvation. We must be delivered from over-spending and under investing.” Whitlock, the spiritual leader of the 3,500-member Christ Our Redeemer (COR) A.M.E. Church, said, “We partner with banks and financial institutions to enlighten our members about debit and credit, savings and investments, and liabilities and expenses.”
COR provides a range of classes through its Community Development Corporation (COR CDC) headed by the Rev. Charles Dorsey who serves as executive director.
“Since late last year, we have been meeting with bankers, discussing how we can better empower the underserved and under privileged as it relates to financial literacy,” said Dorsey.
“Many people have big dreams and big goals, however, some of the foundational principles like creating a budget, writing a check, opening up a bank account, even dealing with some of the nuances that come along with educational and business opportunities, our communities are not as well-versed yet.”
To address the situation, COR CDC’s curriculum has sessions for all ages, from youth to adults. Topics include ‘How to Create a Budget,’ ‘How to Build Credit,’ ‘How to Fix Credit,’ and ‘How to Manage the Extra Money You Have.’ COR CDC also offers home-buying workshops and retirement planning. In addition, Dorsey is working with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau to establish a call center to assist people with financial questions through answers or referrals.
“This summer, several banks are partnering with COR to launch a venture capital fund this summer that will invest in the businesses created by high school seniors and up,” added Whitlock.
To contact Rev. Dorsey, call (949) 955-0014, extension 205 or visit corcdc.org.
West Angeles CDC
For the past three years, the West Angeles CDC (WACDC) operated by West Angeles Christ of God in Christ has offered a free financial literacy program.
“We talk budgeting, savings, credit education,” said Noquomas Wilson, WACDC program manager. “This component is directly servicing a need in our community. We find that lot of people are in a state or panic that their finances are not where they want them to be or near what they should be for basic living conditions.
“We decided to teach them to get ahead of it. Also, our financial literacy program has an education piece for tens and pre-teens. After all, it is a learned behavior,” she said.
“We thought that by teaching this information, even if some people feel it’s a little too late, it will not only better the today’s generation, but the future generations as well. We offer these and other programs throughout the year to help create self-sufficiency.”
On February 19, WACDC will sponsor a free Individual Development Account (IDA) orientation. The class explains about IDAs, special savings accounts that match the deposits of low-to-moderate income people.
Online registration and more information are available at westangelescdc.org. Wilson can be reached at (323) 751-4450, extension 729.
Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches
Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches (LAMC) provides member churches with technical assistance and professional support to develop financial literacy curriculums.
According to Executive Director Cheryl Branch, the curriculums can cover sessions on understanding household budgeting, introduction to electronic banking, the importance of having a positive credit rating, and how to attain good financial literacy.
“LAMC’s financial literacy talent mostly consists of retired financial analysts, bankers, entrepreneurs, and investors who want to give back to the community.
“They are also people of faith and may not have a particular church [of which] they are members, but [are] attracted to the faith-based community organizing model. Our instructors share lessons from basic financial concepts to planning for retirement.”
Stressing the importance of churches preparing people to be self-sufficient, Branch said, “LAMC is trying to help our members, comprised of small-to-midsize churches, teach their congregations basic knowledge about good money management.
“That’s part of selfsufficiency, knowing how to save, how to fund for the future, understanding interest, how to read a balance sheet, and how to create self-employment. If you’re in that low-income group, you are going to have to rely on your own ingenuity.”
Also, LAMC sponsors a twelve-week financial literacy circle that trains church leaders about administration and the group co-produces an online financial show, ‘Lunch With the Finance Bunch.’ The program broadcasts on Fridays at 12 noon on acceleratedradiopraise.net, LAMC’s radio station.
For information about LAMC, call (323) 238-0445.