Members of the U.S. armed forces, Coast Guard, veterans, and their families face financial challenges often not adequately addressed by resources designed for the general public. Two leading nonprofit organizations are now working together to deliver financial education solutions to members of the military and their families in libraries across the country. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) and the American Library Association (ALA) will leverage local member agencies and libraries to help improve the financial lives of service members, veterans and their families.
Recent preliminary data from the Sharpen Your Financial Focus™ (Sharpen) program reveals military families face unique challenges. For example, military Sharpen participants had higher unsecured debt balances ($400-$500 more) than the average Sharpen participant. Fewer tangible assets and higher debt-related expenses were also more common among these families. Relocation, frequent deployment, and changes in local economic conditions are likely among the factors influencing these results.
“The Digital Age has seen libraries transform and be recognized as a critical part of the infrastructure delivering services to communities nationwide,” said ALA President Sari Feldman. “It is a particular honor to be able to serve those who have sacrificed so much on behalf of all Americans – our veterans and their families. We are especially pleased to partner with NFCC, an organization that understands the unique financial needs of military families. Together, our organizations and local members will boost access to relevant and customized resources and learning where it is needed most.”
NFCC member agencies will work with local libraries to offer financial education workshops, access to personalized counseling, and other resources that help families reach their financial goals and contribute to the economic stability of their neighborhoods. The workshops will be delivered by NFCC Certified Credit Counselors in libraries and will cover subjects like housing, budgeting, banking, credit, PCS & deployment, and career transition into civilian life. Additional support will be available in the form of direct counseling that can be accessed through the nonprofit NFCC members participating in this project.
The ALA and libraries nationwide have longstanding relationships and evolving services to meet the needs of veterans, service members and their families. One example of this work can be found in the Veterans connect @ the library initiative with California libraries and the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Close to 40 Veterans Resource Centers have been opened or planned to open this year to connect veterans and their families to benefits and services for which they are eligible. Libraries at Norwich University and the University of Alabama, among others, are supporting programs to assist new veteran students in the transition from military to civilian life. In addition, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has worked with ALA to help inform veterans who are homeless of available support services the VA offers.
“Those who serve our nation as members of the military are often faced with a unique set of financial circumstances,” said Susan C. Keating, president and CEO of the NFCC. “Their unwavering commitment in service to our country should be met with our best efforts to lend support when and where we can. The NFCC is fortunate to have a partner who shares that belief, and is pleased to be working with the ALA to support the needs of military families in the communities where they live and work.”
NFCC and ALA will announce the local communities and libraries where the program will first be launched in the coming weeks.
Support for these programs is offered by Wells Fargo as a part of Hands on Banking® for the Military program.