Making better money managers

UWL senior Mike Myers, It Make$ Cents! financial peer mentor, helping a student. UWL’s It Make$ Cents! program has received three statewide awards for financial literacy efforts. The most recent is a legacy award from The Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy.

UWL’s financial literacy program receives Governor’s Financial Literacy Award

A financial literacy program at UW-La Crosse is getting top state recognition for helping citizens of all ages become better at managing money while serving as a model for others carrying on the work of financial literacy.

UWL’s It Make$ Cents! financial literacy program is one of 18 recipients statewide to receive the 2017 Governor’s Financial Literacy Award. The Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy selected recipients dedicated to improving citizens’ personal financial knowledge and skills based on criteria such as: innovative implementation, demonstrated measurable results, collaboration with partners, and whether the effort was focused on needs-based groups.

UWL’s award is one of only three awards in the legacy category. This prestigious recognition is given to organizations, people and businesses whose reputation in sustained financial literacy is held in high regard and serves as a model for others in carrying on the work of supporting financial literacy. This lifetime recognition is intended to be conferred once to the recipients.

Gov. Scott Walker announced the recipients Friday, Jan. 5. “These individuals and organizations are to be commended for their dedication to helping citizens of all ages enhance their personal financial knowledge and skills,” Walker said in a prepared release. “Financial literacy is about equipping people with the tools they need to be financially secure and achieve their goals.”

The recipients will be honored at a ceremony at the Capitol later this year.

UWL’s It Make$ Cents! program has received past statewide honors including the 2012 and 2013 Wisconsin Financial Literacy Awards from the Department of Financial Institutions.

The program began as a pilot project in 2012 as a way to help UWL students become more financially literate. It has since branched out to offer resources to other local colleges, high schools and the general public. It Make$ Cents! organizers have developed creative programming to make financial literacy more relatable from a financial literacy band, “The Loose Change” to “Money Monologues,” a reenactment of people’s real-life money experiences performed with the help of UWL theater students and UWL’s Department of Theatre Arts.

Attendance at UWL’s It Make$ Cents! events has grown from 520 in 2012 to about 12,700 in 2017. Evaluations after each event show favorability ratings are consistently 90 percent or greater. The initiative has many external partners, including Altra Federal Credit Union, UW Credit Union, Consumer Credit Counseling Services, Viterbo University, Western Technical College, Mutual of Omaha, La Crosse Future Centers, Women’s Financial Wellness Center, AARP, Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army and several area high schools.

Recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Financial Literacy Awards are:

Individual Category:

  • Aaron Keith Bender, teacher, Hurley School District
  • Brenda Campbell, President and CEO, SecureFutures, Milwaukee
  • Cherie Hellenbrand, Mary Breunig, Shane Leadholm and Holden Pratt, teachers, Middleton High School
  • Kristi Paskey and Mitch Hauser, teachers, Lodi High School
  • Joe Schlidt, SecureFutures Investment Conference, Milwaukee

Organization Category:

  • Educators Credit Union, Sturtevant
  • National Institute of Financial and Economic Literacy, Madison
  • Sallie Mae, “Dee-1’s Knowledge for College Tour,” Newark, Delaware
  • UW-Extension Family Living Program, Madison
  • WaterStone Bank, Wauwatosa
  • Wisconsin Coalition on Student Debt Inc., Madison

Legacy Category:

  • It Make$ Cents!, Money Management Center, UWL
  • Kevin McKinley, financial adviser, Eau Claire
  • Timothy G. O’Driscoll, Director, Center for Economic Education, Lakeland University, Milwaukee