Wellness Blog

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Financial Education Program receives boost in form of grant

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Each time Hilda DeJesus turns the key to start her car or sets foot in her new kitchen, she is overcome with gratitude for having learned the skills that helped her achieve her dreams of financial stability.

Her story is not uncommon for individuals who have taken part in the Financial Education and Savings Program (FESP) at Stairways Behavioral Health. Since its inception in 2007, FESP has helped numerous people with mental illness reach their financial goals by teaching money management and savings strategy.

Hilda was one of the first clients to graduate from the program and used the money she saved to buy a car. She then utilized the skills she learned to achieve a long-term goal of purchasing a house, for which she recently remodeled the kitchen.

Now, the program is helping to ensure that more dreams like Hilda’s are fulfilled thanks to a charitable sponsorship from PNC Bank worth more than $10,000.

The Financial Education and Savings Program (FESP) is a 12-week course designed to promote responsible use of money and informed financial decisions.

Students are incentivized with the offer of dollar-for-dollar matches to those who graduate, identify a savings goal and reach $500 in savings through participation in the program. The grant secured through PNC will be used toward the matching amounts.

FESP is offered in the spring and fall during two-hour weekly sessions in a classroom format.

Class topics include understanding the meaning of a budget, income sources, document management, banking and credit. All students have a case manager to monitor how they manage personal finances.

Stairways established FESP to help mentally ill, mostly low-income individuals gain control over such an important part of their lives.

In all, 143 students have graduated from the program, 72 percent of whom were able to save, and in turn, received matched money totaling more than $98,000.

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