United Way wins grant to teach about money in 5 counties

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, January 6, 2011

United Way of West Central Mississippi has received a grant of nearly $150,000 to offer basic money-management classes in five Mississippi counties beginning in March.

“Our target is to reach 435 people,” said the chapter’s executive director, Barbara Tolliver. “Not only are we hoping to reach parents, but their teenagers need to learn, too.”

The target area is Warren, Claiborne, Yazoo, Sharkey and Issaquena counties, she said.

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The $149,625 grant was awarded in December by United Way Worldwide and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Tolliver said, after she completed the application in October. She did not know how many chapters applied for the grant.

The program’s goal, Tolliver said, is to send a grant coordinator and an assistant into the five counties during a two-year period, find residents who would most benefit and teach them about handling their personal finances.

“Most of these people don’t even realize what they don’t have,” Tolliver said.

The poverty level for the five counties ranges from 20 to 50 percent, according to information in the grant. Across the state, it says, the poverty level is 19.9 percent.

Defined subject areas are budgeting, spending wisely and opening checking and savings accounts, she said.

Tolliver plans to have the chapter’s representatives reach out to churches and charitable organizations in the counties to help locate the potential students.

She said baby-sitting, transportation and refreshments will be included in the program.

“I know it will be difficult to get people to come out,” Tolliver said. “So we are working to eliminate those things that keep people away. We need creative ways to keep them involved.”

United Way is a community clearinghouse for service that includes improving education, income and health. The local chapter, which raised $1.3 million in its most recent annual campaign, serves 20 local agencies.