New Program Banks on Success


The first in a series of "Money Smart" interactive workshops took place in May at the Jewish Community Centers Stiffel Senior Center.

In a rapidly changing, high-tech society with 24-hour automated banking and concerns about money-management, fraud and security, "Money Smart" is a program aimed at increasing financial literacy among community members, and moving them toward self-sufficiency. The first workshop reviewed banking basics. Seven more will follow at the Stiffel Center now through August.

"Money Smart" was developed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and is being offered through an initiative of the "Citizens Community Bridge," a partnership between the Citizens Bank Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. This partnership was announced last September when the Citizens Bank Foundation presented a $250,000 grant to Federation to help families in need.

Besides increasing financial literacy, other "Citizens Community Bridge" programs are addressing such pertinent issues as boosting social action and service, reducing hunger, and providing emergency assistance and food to the elderly.

"We were looking for ways to help the community and utilize the strengths of Citizens Bank, and Federation and its partner agencies," said David Rosenberg, director of Federation's Center for Social Responsibility. "During this process, we learned about the 'Money Smart' program and the need for financial literacy among our constituents.

"One of the center's goals is to promote self-sufficiency and help people to remain independent," he continued, adding that the program is especially geared for the elderly, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and low- to moderate-income families."

"Part of our goal is to help Federation achieve its goal," stated Joy Jordan-Williams, assistant vice president of community investments at Citizens Bank, who oversees "Money Smart" throughout Philadelphia.

"We see financial literacy as a way to self-sufficiency. It's part of the culture [here] to educate people about banking and finances. Historically, the bank has always been concerned with giving back to the community. We believe that financial literacy education is one of our responsibilities."

She highlighted topics covered during workshops, including raising awareness about banking services; educating to ensure a broader understanding about savings, credit, rates and loans; and answering questions regarding ATM and debit cards, direct deposit of Social Security, fraud and security.

"It gives people a nice start, and puts them at ease," said Jordan-Williams of the workshops. "What's great is that it can be adapted to various audiences."

Raymond Neas, an assistant vice president at Citizens Bank and branch manager of Whitman Plaza, who was the presenter at Stiffel's inaugural "Money Smart" workshop, said participants were appreciative of the new insight and knowledge.

"I tried to focus on the changes that have taken place in the banking industry over the last five years," he explained. He has been working with Susan Hoffman, site director at Stiffel, to tailor the successive workshops to the specific needs of the population.

Additional financial literacy workshops are being planned at the JCC Klein and Kaiserman branches, Jewish Employment and Vocational Service's Orleans Technical Center, Federation, Golden Slipper Center for Seniors, Congregation Keneseth Israel and the Congregation Tifereth Israel of Lower Bucks County.

To learn more, call 267-671-1052.



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