The Grace Center’s new financial literacy coordinator assumed her role last week, and she’s working to adapt finance lessons for Ardmore’s needs.
Ellen Roberts, who cofounded the maternity shelter Rose Home in Oklahoma City, now serves as coordinator in a contract position. Currently, the center is partnered with Naomi House, Broadway House and Destiny Center to provide financial literacy courses.
“I think it’s something that gets overlooked because it’s not necessarily taught in schools,’ Roberts said. “Just depending on someone’s background, it may be something they didn’t learn at home, so this is a good way to to teach those skills.”
The Grace Center’s financial literacy program is funded through a grant from ProLiteracy. She said she works with adults and teenagers to teach budgeting and financial planning, adapting the curriculum to suit each class’ needs.
“I think a lot of it is relational,” she said. “It comes across more as something you’re facilitating, rather than something you’re teaching. So finding a starting point, something you can work at together.”
The curriculum she uses, called “Control Your Money,” starts students off with a quiz to gauge financial habits.
“Just understanding where your money is coming from and where it’s going sounds really simple and silly, but people often don’t do that,” Roberts said.
She said while that may sound simple, not everyone tracks their spending through the month, and planning ahead makes all the difference.
“Really, it’s just basic things,” she said. “Budgeting basics, talking about needs versus wants, talking about savings, credit, ways to save money.”
In addition, she said prior experience has shown her common financial snares, like predatory practices such as payday loans and steep interest rates, that often derail people.
“Something I think will be exciting to do is break that down,” Roberts said. “If you can build up your credit and get a car loan for a five percent interest rate, what does that look like compared to a 20 percent interest rate? We’ll go over ways to protect themselves from those things.”
She said the financial courses, currently several weeks long, will most likely be modified to square with those organizations’ schedules.
“With places like sober living, Naomi House and the Destiny Center, they have shorter programs, so they’re cycling through people quicker,” Roberts said. “So, we’re trying to figure out what’s going to serve their clients best and be the most practical, versus doing it as a six-week class.”
In addition to her role at the Grace Center, she’ll serve as a board member for Ardmore Literacy Leadership, a coalition of local organizations working to increase literacy of all kinds, including technological and financial literacy. She will also serve on ALL’s finance committee.
“Since the Grace Center has a financial literacy component, that makes us interested in being a part of Ardmore Literacy Leadership,” Roberts said.