Financial Literacy Improvement Program has successful launch

Financial Literacy Improvement Program has Successful Launch: UW-Eau Claire business students provide counseling services to area residents

During the fall 2009 semester, 59 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire College of Business students volunteered their services as financial mentors to clients in the Financial Literacy Improvement Program (FLIP), a new program that provides financial counseling to low-income individuals and families in the Chippewa Valley. FLIP is a joint venture of the UW-Eau Claire Department of Accounting and Finance and Western Dairyland community action agency.

Forty-nine clients went through the pilot program, with 22 people meeting all the requirements to successfully complete the program, according to Adrian Klenz, Western Dairyland financial literacy specialist and FLIP coordinator. The number of clients completing the fall program exceeded his expectations for the new program.

“Our completion rate reflected the quality of the counseling clients received from their financial mentors,” Klenz said.

UW-Eau Claire finance professor Vladimir Kotomin, UW-Eau Claire FLIP coordinator and one of the originators of the program, was also pleased with the results.

"Our students did a great job and it was a great experience for them," said Kotomin. "They were able to apply what they have learned in the classroom, develop new skills related to both personal finance and interpersonal communications, and of course, serve others in the community."

Many students who participated in the pilot intend to volunteer again, according to Kotomin.

“Students told us that FLIP was one of the most interesting, challenging, and rewarding experiences of their student careers,” said Kotomin.

FLIP volunteers taught clients basic budgeting techniques and helped them establish financial plans for their lives. Students received training prior to working with clients on personal finance topics, such as how to develop a budget or handle credit card debt.

UW-Eau Claire students who participate in FLIP can satisfy the university's 30 hour service-learning requirement. Finance, accounting, and economics majors can also earn one independent study credit through their service with FLIP.

“FLIP is a win-win-win for the university, students, and the community, and it will only get better as it improves with each subsequent run,” said Kotomin.

The next FLIP run will begin in February 2010. Interested students should contact Dr. Vlad Kotomin, UW-Eau Claire Department of Accounting and Finance by email at kotomin@uwec.edu or by phone at 715-836-3535.

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