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New agreement expands financial education for Latinos in Greater Minnesota

By Antonio Alba Meraz, Extension educator in family resiliency

In fall 2017, University of Minnesota Extension launched a program with the Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul. Its purpose was to provide financial education to people of Mexican ancestry in Greater Minnesota. The Consulate of Mexico provided a $5,000 grant to fund the program.

Antonio Alba Meraz meeting with Consulate of Mexico Gerardo Guerrero Gomez signing agreement.
Extension Educator Antonio Alba Meraz looks on as Gerardo Guerrero Gomez, head consul with the Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul, signs an agreement continuing a program of financial education for Latinos in Greater Minnesota. On the left is Mónica Cruz, program manager for community affairs with the Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul.

A team of Extension financial capability educators carried out the program, which includes a series of workshops and one-to-one consultations in 17 counties.

This year, we’re doing the same program. But it’s bigger and broader in scope.

On April 30, U of M Extension and the Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul signed an agreement to continue offering financial education to people of Mexican ancestry in Greater Minnesota.

The agreement includes a $15,000 grant from the Consulate of Mexico and calls for a series of workshops and consultations to be offered in 28 counties. Besides people of Mexican ancestry, people of any Latino ancestry are welcome to attend.

Workshops are based on the Ventanilla de Asesoria Financiera (Financial Empowerment Window) Model. And they use components of Extension’s DollarWorks 2 personal finance education curriculum.

Most of our goals for the 2018 financial education program remain the same this year as in 2017. They are to:
  • Support and teach participants about financial resource management and family asset protection. 
  • Empower participants with consumer information and identification of predatory practices.
  • Promote learning and create awareness in participants about access to and use of affordable financial products.
  • Support participants in making decisions about money by providing information and teaching skills in budgeting and use of community resources.
  • Support participants who are parents in working with their children on pursuing a pathway to post-secondary education.
We have also added three new goals this year. They are to:
  • Help participants who are parents find ways to get funds to pay for post-secondary education for their children.
  • Teach participants how to organize and keep their important financial documents in a safe place. 
  • Help participants maintain the overall wellbeing of their families through nutrition education. A healthy person is more productive and spends less money seeking medical care.

Already under way

Educators on our Latino financial literacy team have already begun delivering the new series of financial education workshops and one-to-one consultations. The series will continue through September this year.

Our team includes Gabriela Burk, Jose Lamas, Francisca Mendoza, and myself. We work under the guidance of Mary Jo Katras, program leader in family resiliency with the Extension Center for Family Development.

We partnered with Consulate of Mexico staff to develop the program, which includes a linguistically and culturally framed two-hour workshop. We expect to provide 53 workshops. In addition, we will provide personal assistance, as requested, in both Spanish and English.

We’re excited to offer this important program again! Feel free to contact me at for more information. And check out this report on our 2017 financial education and family asset protection program.
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