About the DollarWise Campaign

DollarWise is dedicated to the idea that all Americans can benefit from increased access to financial education. As individuals become more financially literate, they become better prepared to build stable families, to help themselves and their children gain education, to be productive members of the workforce, and to contribute to their communities. When cities have a robust summer youth employment program, they give their young people the opportunity to gain the necessary skills to move forward in their careers and their future.

DollarWise supports the goals and objectives of the National Strategy for Financial Education 2011, released by the federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission in December 2010. It invites mayors and city staff to examine their communities’ financial education needs; create an action plan; and forge partnerships with financial institutions, faith-based groups, nonprofits, local businesses, and others in the community to address this important issue. DollarWise offers support through technical assistance, partnerships with national organizations ranging from Bank of America and the Foundation for Financial Planning to the Federal Reserve System, and its two grants programs.

How do I set up a financial literacy campaign in my city?

Setting up a local financial literacy campaign may sound overwhelming, but it is easier than you might think. Sure, it will take some work and a little bit of effort, but by following a few simple steps you’ll be up and running in no time.

Step 1 Analyze your city's financial education needs

Different cities scope out their financial literacy needs in different ways. Some bring together groups of city and community leaders and residents to discuss their needs; others take a statistical approach based on sources such as census and IRS data; yet others use some combination of the two. In the end, chances are you’ll be able to identify many different groups to help. But that can be overwhelming. Focus your efforts on one segment of your community and then expand from there as your capacity grows.

Step 2 Find out who's already addressing those needs

Most likely, one or more organizations are working on financial literacy in your city. There’s no need to “reinvent the wheel,” as the saying goes. Learn who those groups are, how and where they do their work, and the segments of your community they work with. Groups that are probably addressing financial literacy may include faith-based groups, financial institutions, public and private schools, nonprofits, the local housing authority and/or housing-assistance programs, local employers, and other community-based groups.

Step 3 Develop partnerships with those groups

Establish partnerships with those organizations that are working to improve financial literacy. Help them to reinforce and enhance their work and to build a coordinated, citywide effort. You can work with them on organizing classes, workshops, and community programs. Your work with them will build your application for an Innovation Grant and create a foundation for even greater expansion of your local financial literacy efforts in the future.

Step 4 Take advantage of all DollarWise has to offer

  • Apply for Innovation Grants.
  • Participate in the Summer Youth Campaign and Financial Planning Days.
  • Work with your local partners to organize financial education classes and events.
  • Work with our national partners and learn from other DollarWise cities.
  • Make a commitment to an ongoing, year-round financial literacy effort.
  • After a while, take a step back and evaluate your local campaign. Identify areas in which you can improve.