FLIP Aims to Increase Financial Literacy:
New program provides service learning opportunity
By Skylar Christoffersen, Ashley King, Brant Marple, Matt Sinz, and Tyler Volk
A new University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire program enables business students to gain personal financial advising experience while giving back to the Eau Claire area community. FLIP, the Financial Literacy Improvement Program, assists economically disadvantaged individuals and families in the Eau Claire area. The new program was established by Western Dairyland, a community action agency that provides a variety of services to low-income people, to address a general lack of financial understanding that Western Dairyland staff found among their clients.
"Most volunteers would not encounter these people in the course of their daily lives. It may be an eye-opening experience for some students."
—Dr. Vladimir Kotomin
FLIP satisfies UW-Eau Claire’s full service-learning requirement of 30 hours. Finance, accounting, and economics majors can also earn one independent study credit through their service with FLIP.
Recruitment for students to participate in the next FLIP, which begins February 2010, will be held November 19 and December 2, 2009 in the UW-Eau Claire Davies Center.
FLIP volunteers teach clients basic budgeting techniques and help them establish a financial plan for their lives. Volunteers undergo an hour-long training session before working with clients. The training session prepares them to address issues such as budgeting and credit card debt. They can then schedule times to meet with clients and designate a meeting place that is convenient for them, including on-campus sites.
Participation in FLIP offers many benefits for students, according to Dr. Vladimir Kotomin, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire finance professor. Students gain teamwork experience, and planning and organizational skills. They also gain an appreciation for diversity.
“Most volunteers would not encounter these people in the course of their daily lives. It may be an eye-opening experience for some students,” said Kotomin.
Students also have the opportunity to network with business professionals by working directly with employees from local banks including RCU, M&I Bank, and Associated Bank.
Among the most valuable things students gain through volunteering with FLIP is financial advising experience. Discussing finances is a very personal thing, and getting used to meeting with clients can be very beneficial to students who are looking to pursue a career in financial advising, according to Adrian Klenz, Western Dairyland financial literacy specialist.
Any College of Business student may participate in FLIP, according to Kotomin. Interested students should contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 715-836-3535.
From left to right: Skylar Christoffersen is a senior marketing major from Langley, BC, Canada; Ashley King is a senior accounting major from Chippewa Falls, WI; Brant Marple is a senior marketing major from Apple Valley, MN; Matt Sinz is a senior accounting major from Oregon, WI; and Tyler Volk is a senior management major from Minneapolis, MN. They wrote this article for their BCOM Advanced Writing class.