Tag Archives: financial and homeownership education

Strategic connections can start with a smile and handshake

The Financial and Homeownership Education Team are posing for a photo with Senator Darwin Booher.

The Financial and Homeownership Education Team meet with Senator Darwin Booher. Photo courtesy of Bill Hendrian.

Bill Hendrian, Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) team educator in District 5, shared with me some great advice about building strategic connections with people – from local employers to state legislators. Something as simple as a smile and a handshake can open a door that leads to another.

Some thoughts Bill had and experiences he shared:

  • Attend local events, even if they’re not in your program area. Also, seek out events where local and state leaders will attend. Bill attended a local agricultural breakfast. There, he met Darwin Booher with a handshake, a smile and his elevator speech.
  • Remember to say, “Thank you.” Sen. Booher helped appropriate funds during the foreclosure crisis of 2008 that funded Michigan State University (MSU) Extension FHE positions and programs. The FHE work team visited the senator in 2015 to personally thank him for all of his efforts. Team members also shared the success that they were having helping Michigan’s struggling homeowners. That success was made possible because of the funding to train and assemble a staff ready and able to meet the needs brought about by the crisis. Sen. Booher has recently touted our efforts with local community leaders as well as the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
  • Share your impact stories with county commissioners. They can also connect you with others. MSU Extension provided education and guidance in regard to the Michigan Step Forward program, helping local citizens who were hardest hit by the recession. The commissioners realized that the program was responsible for recouping thousands of real property tax dollars into the county coffers. Now, their county offices refer struggling homeowners to our offices to help them stay in their homes.
  • Each time you hold a program or speak with an audience, remember that each person sitting there has connections of his or her own. It turns out that one of the folks who attended an FHE course was a human resource professional at a large manufacturer. When the company needed financial education for its employees, the manager suggested using MSU Extension programs. Because of that connection, we were able to provide on-site Money Management classes.

“I have learned that it is important to make ourselves available to our local communities as often as possible,” Bill said. “I have learned that even a smile and a handshake can go a long way, that one door leads to another and that it is important to be patient, and stick to our goals as educators – to provide relevant, timely programming and to treat everyone with respect. You never know when you will have the opportunity to give your elevator speech.”

Comments Off on Strategic connections can start with a smile and handshake

Filed under strategic connections

Education policymakers on MSU Extension resources: The FHE team goes to the Capitol

On Friday, May 20, representatives from 15 state legislative offices attended a coffee and donuts informational session at the state Capitol. The session was held by the Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) team to educate the group about the post-foreclosure toolkits that Michigan State University (MSU) Extension provides. Toolkits were also distributed to all offices to advertise the effective and impactful resources that MSU Extension produces for families and individuals starting over after home foreclosure.

In a brainstorming and planning meeting between a few members of the FHE team and Eric Walcott, MSU Extension public policy specialist, the team discussed reaching out to legislators to market the “Starting Over After Foreclosure” toolkit. Eric, having previous experience working in the Legislature, suggested hosting an event to draw attention to the new resource. He shared that often state departments hold educational sessions to provide legislators and their staff members with timely resources and information.

The FHE team wanted to not only share the MSU Extension resource with the legislators and their staff members, but also educate them that they could use it to support constituents who call their offices with questions about personal financial recovery. Team members received the approval of Mike Kovacic, director of stakeholder relations for the college of agriculture and natural resources; Dave Ivan, their institute director; and MSU. They also secured the support of Sen. Darwin Booher, who co-sponsored the event. Then the planning began. Jean Lakin, Sarah Carter, Erica Tobe, Eric Walcott, Bill Hendrian, Scott Matteson and Mike Kovacic contributed to the planning of the event.

The event consisted of a short, half-hour presentation to legislators and their staff members, followed by a brief question-and-answer period. Each legislative office, whether or not an office representative attended the event, received a packet. The packet included MSU Extension FHE team information (including infographics of the results of their programs, a team roster and current program offerings), district foreclosure data (for offices that RSVP’d to the event), a free “Starting Over After Foreclosure” toolkit and marketing kicker cards to promote the resource in their communities. Bill Hendrian, Scott Matteson, Eric Walcott, LaShawn Brown, Beth Martinéz, Brenda Long, Erica Tobe, Mike Kovacic and Jinnifer Ortquist attended to host and answer questions.

The “Starting Over After Foreclosure” toolkit is a research-based, resource guide for residents who have experienced foreclosure, housing instability or both. It was designed to provide an educational support after traditional foreclosure counseling services end as a way to rebuild financial standing. Eight stand-alone units address core financial concepts (budgeting, credit and debt management, exploring housing options and more). One unit addresses emotional recovery after foreclosure and stress-management skill building. Visit http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/mimoneyhealth/startingover to access the resource. The material will be available soon in Spanish, and a series of noncredit online courses will be available to participants statewide.

“Staff members that I spoke with were very receptive of the material, interested in the information, and appreciated that it was free for the general public to use.” Erica said. “I think promoting this toolkit to legislators in the manner that we did was a good way to be accountable for the funds that we have received to support our work in this programming area, and provide them with useful information that they can use with the residents in their districts. In addition, it was a great way to market MSU Extension, and the work of our FHE team. We had several staff members attend the event, and they were able to connect with their respective legislative offices, and create connections for future programming opportunities! The legislative staff members that we spoke with were very excited to see the information presented and seemed to appreciate the short, succinct manner that we presented the material. I think most participants left the presentation understanding how they can use the information in the future and appreciated the applicability of the resource.”

If you have any questions about this event or the materials, please feel free to contact Erica Tobe, MSU Extension specialist, at tobee@msu.edu or Eric Walcott, MSU Extension public policy specialist, at walcott3@msu.edu.

Comments Off on Education policymakers on MSU Extension resources: The FHE team goes to the Capitol

Filed under Financial education

Financial and homeownership team thanks state Sen. Booher

One of the things that we have been talking about over the past few months is the importance of developing our strategic communications to work on relationship-building. Strong relationships with clientele, stakeholders and communities can help ensure that our audiences know what we’re doing for them and help us make a difference in our communities. Sometimes, the most important strategy is just to say thank you, as evidenced by a recent meeting between the Michigan State University Extension Financial and Homeownership Education work team and state Sen. Darwin Booher.

senator booher fhe

In 2012, Booher was instrumental in passing legislation that provided resources to struggling homeowners. One part of the bill included funding to help MSU Extension provide a larger net of resources to individuals and families across the state. This funding has given more than 11,500 Michigan residents and their families access to education or counseling from the Financial and Homeownership Education work team.Senator Infographic

When the team met with Booher earlier this month, they presented him with an infographic that showed just how many Michigan residents had worked with our staff with the help of the funds he had helped procure. See the full-sized infographic.

This infographic went a long way toward educating Booher about his impact on MSU Extension. It showed that with his legislative work, we were able to help prevent foreclosures and provide information to new homeowners across the state. By sharing our stories with those who have helped us, we can help them feel more confident in helping us again in the future, so that they aren’t only hearing from us when we need something from them.

So consider sharing some of your success stories next time you’re given the chance, because the work you’re all doing is making serious impacts on your communities! Great job, team!

Comments Off on Financial and homeownership team thanks state Sen. Booher

Filed under Accomplishments

MSU Extension encourages Michigan to be “Money Smart”

This week, April 18-25, is Money Smart Week 2015. While the week may be more than halfway over, that does not mean you have to miss this excellent opportunity to get your finances in order with your colleagues in the Financial and Homeownership Education Work Team. In partnership with Money Smart Week Michigan, Michigan State University Extension staff members are hosting events going on across the state through Saturday, many of which you may complete online from the comfort of your own home. Visit Money Smart Week to see the events available.

Additionally, if you have a Michigan State University student in your family, you might want to let them know about the possibility of a $1,000 prize if they participate in “GeoCache for College Cash,” a hunt for personal finance treasures. While each of the colleges that participate in this program handle the contest differently, the event organizers at MSU decided to keep the contest to one location instead of all across the sprawling campus in East Lansing. The MSU event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight, April 23, in Room 300 of the Human Ecology building on campus.

If you aren’t available this week, but still want to help support your colleagues, you can find them at MIMoneyHealth.org, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments Off on MSU Extension encourages Michigan to be “Money Smart”

Filed under Greening Michigan

Tom Izzo wants you to be on the winning team

The Michigan State University Extension Financial and Homeownership Education Work Group has just launched a radio campaign to promote its programming across the state. The 30-second commercial produced by Dave Ellis from Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications features Coach Tom Izzo from the Michigan State University basketball team.

You can view the ad here:

The ad will run from January to March 2015 on statewide radio stations, including during March Madness, to promote MIMoneyHealth.org. The Financial and Homeownership Education Work Group has updated its information and resources about money management, homeownership and foreclosure on their website. Their new postforeclosure curriculum, Starting Over After Foreclosure Toolkit, will launch on this site in early January.

Comments Off on Tom Izzo wants you to be on the winning team

Filed under Greening Michigan

Money management classes taught in the deaf community

One of our values at Michigan State University Extension is the commitment to reaching out to diverse clientele and finding ways to adapt our content to their needs. This November, Wanda Roberts, Extension educator in Oakland County with the Financial and Homeownership Education Team, taught a Money Management Workshop Series at Faith Assembly Deaf Church in Pontiac.

The program reached 21 people who are deaf, three who are deaf and blind, and three who are hard of hearing. The program engaged eight sign language interpreters each week to work with the group. Topics presented during the series included making money decisions, creating and managing a spending plan, managing credit and debt, as well as saving and investing.

The participant feedback was very positive. Two participant responses follow:

  • I enjoyed learning. I’m prepared for the future. I can now protect myself and my family. The three classes were worth it! Many deaf and hard of hearing wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn these details.
  • I’m very impressed since I actually understood all of it. I’m not even anxious a bit. I like the way the instructor was patient with all questions and was open about our concerns.

Our commitment to Michigan individuals and families extends to many diverse audiences, and it’s exciting to see how the partnerships we make can help facilitate that.

Comments Off on Money management classes taught in the deaf community

Filed under curriculum, diversity

Financial & Homeownership Education work group has all the answers at Money Smart Week event

Money Smart Week, April 5 to 12, is a national public awareness campaign coordinated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to help individuals and families better manage their personal finances. More than 400 free Money Smart Week events took place throughout Michigan on topics ranging from kids and money to managing student loan debt, household budgeting and retirement.

Our Michigan State University Extension Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) work group participated in 12 Money Smart Week events throughout the eight days. One of the largest events was the Fox 2 News “Ask the Expert” program held the morning of April 7. This program consisted of both a live call-in program in the Fox 2 News studios and a live webchat on the MyFoxDetroit.com website. TV viewers either called in to the studio or went on the Web to ask questions on debt, credit, budgeting, homeownership and mortgages, retirement and investing, and fraud and scams.

The FHE team members who participated in the studio taking calls were LaShawn Brown, Terry Clark-Jones, Mike Krauch, Angela Miles, Wanda Roberts, Pam Sarlitto and Rob Weber. This group answered more than 250 calls and also talked with Fox 2 News financial reporter Murray Feldman on-air on a variety of money issues.

Answering questions in the online webchat were FHE team members Jim Buxton, Bill Hendrian, Khurram Imam, Brenda Long, Julie Moberg, Jinnifer Ortquist, Beth Waitrovich and Vivian Washington. This team provided replies to more than 100 questions that came into the chat room.

Money Smart Week provided a great opportunity for the FHE work group to enhance their mission of providing financial education throughout Michigan. And I think the Ask the Expert call-in/live-chat model they’ve developed with Fox 2 News is something that might be appropriate for other program areas and work groups to consider in the future. We’ll hear more about that on the May 5 MSUE Update Webinar.

Comments Off on Financial & Homeownership Education work group has all the answers at Money Smart Week event

Filed under Financial education