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Cohort of 20 graduate from Financial Educator Certificate Program


By Mary Jo Katras, program leader in family resiliency

Twenty more community professionals now have the tools and confidence to teach people better ways to manage their finances thanks to the Financial Educator Certificate (FEC) Program.


Eleven of the 20 graduates of the 2018 Financial Educator Certificate Program posed for a photo recently with FD staff Karen Shirer, Lori Hendrickson, and Mary Jo Katras. Karen and Lori are in the upper left; Mary Jo is in the lower right.
Eleven of the 20 graduates of the 2018 Financial Educator Certificate Program posed for a photo recently with FD staff Karen Shirer, Lori Hendrickson, and Mary Jo Katras. Karen and Lori are in the upper left; Mary Jo is in the lower right.

In 2012, the Extension Center for Family Development (FD) partnered with the University of Minnesota Department of Family Social Science to develop the FEC program. It consists of 10 modules offered online over nine months, starting each September. Since its inception, 137 participants have signed up and 83 have been certified.

Development of the online course was led by Catherine Solheim, associate professor with the Department of Family Social Science and myself. For the past three years, Lori Hendrickson, Extension educator in family resiliency, has been providing leadership for this online course.

This year's cohort of students graduated from the program in April. They continue to have access to tools and resources, as well as professional development opportunities.

Filling a community need

The Financial Educator Certificate Program was developed to fill a community need. That need is to prepare community-based professionals to work with clients from diverse backgrounds to manage their financial resources, build assets, and improve financial well-being. The FEC Program equips community-based professionals with knowledge and skills they can pass on to clients.

The idea is to help people manage their financial resources, build their financial assets, and improve their financial health and well-being. The course covers core financial concepts of earning, spending, saving, borrowing, and protecting assets.

The online course also includes an overview of financial behavior theory, financial education delivery methods, ethics, and program evaluation. Through individual study and online interaction with peers, participants demonstrate mastery of core financial practices.

The online course uses a cohort model—participants take the course along with a group of peers who are all learning the same concepts at the same time. This lets participants get to know each other and develop a community of learning.

Participants are saying

Here's what some students said they learned during the course:
“This course gave me the tools to approach our students [clients] about finances since it is such a scary topic for them. Once we were able to engage in discussion and break that barrier, our students became excited.”

“It gave me the opportunity to use the tools from the course and create a safe space for individuals to talk about money.”

“[Change in financial behaviors] not only occurs through information; [financial behaviors] are 20 percent head knowledge and 80 percent behavior. So really starting to look at how a person spends their money is critical. For example, a person may realize that she spends more money on certain things when [she’s] stressed. With this certification, I am going to develop workshops for individuals to help them with their financial practices.”
Congratulations to this year's graduates! Please tell your community partners about the program. Registration is now open for a new cohort of learners to start classes in September.

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