Financial Coaching Workshops come to North Barclay Green

North Barclay Green Community Center at 2001 N Barclay is a community space provided through Neighborhood Partners and Telesis and is open daily to connect neighbors to resources, provide programming for all ages and interests, and work to make Barclay a great neighborhood to call home.

St. Ambrose offered a one day financial education workshop in February at the center and was invited to host a four week financial coaching workshop series this spring. We sat down with the center’s community organizer Tarahn Harris to catch up on what’s going on at the North Barclay Green Center and to get his perspective on financial education in the neighborhood. Tarahn works with Ms. Lottie Snead to bring programming and resources to Barclay residents.

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So, how do financial coaching services contribute to the overall vision for moving the community forward?

Neighborhood Partners has 7 core values to support the neighborhood, one of those values is financial empowerment.

The workshops provide information that’s accessible that can help residents see new options for themselves and envision a different future. Neighborhood residents can see that even if they don’t have the job they want right now, they can still set goals- and that’s the impact and the importance of financial education for the neighborhood.

What was the response from neighborhood residents about the financial workshop?

There’s been a lot of good feedback, and I think community members are just grateful to be exposed to the information. The workshop is presented in a way that is super engaging, which makes it easier for the residents to embrace the information. What’s really great is that St. Ambrose is accessible to the community so that physical barrier is gone. It’s important to connect people to resources that they can walk to.

What impressed you about the Financial Education workshop this winter?

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Denitra Braham, St. Ambrose Financial Coach, answers a participant’s question at the February workshop

It’s refreshing to have the information presented in a way that is fun! There was such a wealth of information and the way it’s presented is accessible and engaging.The question and answer section was really helpful and participants at the workshop were made very comfortable, even with a subject that’s usually sensitive.

What other services are offered at the center and through its partners?

Community round tables about nutrition and diabetes, community gardening, help for returning citizens, job readiness support, youth programs like a bike club, Monday night cooking classes with a local chef… and more!

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With a background in social work, community organizing, and family counseling, Tarahn serves Barclay with a  breadth of knowledge on how to have a positive impact on other people. He’s hitting the pavement to make sure Barclay residents are connected to the resources they need- no matter how big or small. As Tarahn wisely noted, “Communities thrive through partnerships,” and we’re happy to have Tarahn and the crew at North Barclay Green to be out there connecting neighbors to resources and providing a great community space for the Barclay neighborhood.

New Workshop Series focuses on Investing in the Future

Through support from MECU, the Foreclosure Prevention department recently initiated a brand new five-week financial education workshop series. The course was designed to be a financial coaching course where participants could learn how to make empowering financial decisions and invest in their future.

On the first night, participants were encouraged to make a short-term goal that they could accomplish by the end of the five week course. These goals spanned from finishing the course to saving more money, and from rebuilding credit to signing a contract on a house. All participants who finished the course felt that even if they didn’t achieve their goal during the five week period, they had made significant progress towards their goals and felt better equipped to make empowering financial decisions.photo 4

The lead financial counselor for the course, Denitra, commented that she really “admired that the participants were so focused.” One thing that she asserted after hosting her first five-week course was that learning how to make better financial decisions is a process, and all participants had unique moments and lessons that led them to a full realization about what could be inhibiting them from reaching their financial goals.

One lesson that seemed to be really influential outlined the impact of your credit score on your ability to get a good rate on a loan. Effective strategies to take control of your credit score and rebuild credit were also discussed. Participants also agreed that discussions about goal setting helped to form new financial habits.

But one of the most effective parts of this workshop setting was the community that participants built among each other. It wasn’t just the lessons that enabled attendees to gain ground towards their financial goals; it was the companionship and support network that participants formed with each other.

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If you’re interested in participating in an upcoming “Invest in Your Future” workshop, contact Antoine Norris at 410-366-8550 x235

Homeownership Counseling: Empowerment and Education

Not many people would enjoy going to work for six hours on a Saturday afternoon. However, Anthony Parran might be one of them. With over 18 years of experience educating and empowering prospective homebuyers, Mr. Parran conducts free monthly homeownership workshops where he provides packets of information, guest speakers, sandwiches, and a friendly atmosphere where questions can be posed freely.

Despite the workshop’s easy-going environment, however, Parran also makes sure that homebuyers know the effort required in purchasing and owning a home. Referring to himself as the “reality check man,” Parran warns of scammers, stresses the work required to repair damaged credit, and advises participants to “know your [financial] comfort zone.”

In the aftermath of the economic and foreclosure crisis-and after years of increased complexity in the home-buying process-such counseling is needed now as much as ever. For while the benefits of homeownership education-including reduced mortgage default rates and increased purchasing power-have long been realized, the ongoing foreclosure crisis has been a dramatic reminder of the importance of homeownership education and counseling.

The financial crisis has also had a significant impact upon the Homeownership Program’s work. Future efforts are focused on new methods of outreach, increased follow-up with clients, and improved case management. Given current market conditions, the program is also re-evaluating its curriculum in order to take a more comprehensive approach, with increased emphasis on post-purchase and financial literacy counseling.

As Mr. Parran says, “experience is the best teacher.” And there is much to learn from the current wave of foreclosures.