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Latino Financial Literacy Team addresses immigration concerns and other emerging issues


By Antonio Alba Meraz and Sara Croymans, Extension educators in family resiliency

University of Minnesota Extension’s Latino Financial Literacy Program (LFLP) helps Latino immigrants in southern Minnesota understand U.S. financial information and systems so participants can make sound financial decisions. Program team members include financial capability educators Gabriela Burk, Dodge County; Jose Lamas, Nobles County; and Francisca Mendoza, McLeod County. They are supported by Antonio Alba Meraz and Sara Croymans, Extension educators in family resiliency. Recently, the Latino Financial Literacy Team has provided special programming to address immigration and related issues.

Responding to immigration issues

Latino Financial Literacy team members have observed that their program participants are concerned about recent and pending U.S. immigration policy changes. Both undocumented and documented people are fearful of deportation and the potential for separating children from their parents. Some participants lack knowledge of their rights. Some families do not have their important documents organized in a central place.

Because of these issues, the team is putting greater emphasis on ongoing financial workshops across southern Minnesota on how to organize important documents. The team also is offering new segments on how to document children’s progress in school in case of a move, and how to secure assets. The team has also developed a resource list (PDF) for participants as they seek assistance on financial, legal, and mental health issues. In addition, the team facilitated a session at the Extension Fall Program Conference to discuss how emerging immigration policy changes are affecting their work across the state. The session also looked at how we might work together to meet the needs of Latino immigrants in Minnesota.

A productive partnership

Extension and the Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul signed an agreement in July to provide financial education to Mexican nationals living in rural Minnesota. A memorandum of understanding included a $5,000 grant from the consulate to support financial capability workshops in 16 counties. Topics include organizing important papers, finding consumer protection, managing debt, banking, obtaining credit, and budgeting. The workshop uses a family cultural approach and is offered in Spanish to reduce barriers to learning.

Meredith McQuaid, Associate Vice President and Dean of International Programs; Gerardo Guerrero Gomez, Consul, Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul; Karen Hanson, Executive Vice President and Provost; Bev Durgan, Dean of Extension signing agreement.
Meredith McQuaid, Associate Vice President and Dean of International Programs; Gerardo Guerrero Gomez, Consul, Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul; Karen Hanson, Executive Vice President and Provost; Bev Durgan, Dean of Extension

To date, 17 workshops have been taught in 15 counties, reaching 224 individuals. Mexican families have responded positively to these financial education events. “I learned the importance of paying on time, I learned that I don’t need to carry important documents with me all the time,” and “I learned how to build credit and protect my economic assets” are typical comments from workshop participants, such as parents, students, farm and industry workers.

University of Minnesota Extension and the Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul will be recognized in Los Angeles later this month for their financial education workshops in rural Minnesota. The secretary of foreign relations in Mexico and Citibank selected the Minnesota workshops for this honor from among programs offered through 50 consulates in the United States. Alba Meraz and Monica Cruz, a representative from the Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul, will make presentations at the National Ventanilla Convening in Los Angeles later this month. Representatives from Mexican consulates and Citibank will attend the gathering.


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Comments

  1. Congratulations LFLT for all of their work on this project ... & to Antonio for leading the efforts! Job well done!

    Sara Croymans

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