The Make Your Money Talk program, a financial education course offered by the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM) and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), continued its outreach into the Milwaukee community by recognizing 96 graduates of the program at a ceremony held December 11, 2012.
An additional 129 graduates were recognized in June, leading to a record number of graduates for the year. “In 2012, 225 Milwaukee residents successfully completed the Make Your Money Talk Program, a new record for us,” said HACM Secretary-Executive Director Tony Pérez. “With financial education and a sound savings plan as the foundation, this program has moved hundreds of individuals toward self sufficiency and helped strengthen our community.”
Early in 2012, the program received a financial boost through a $15,000 competitive innovation grant to Mayor Tom Barrett from the US Conference of Mayors, allowing for the expansion of the program to more than 5,700 households in HACM’s Section 8 Rent Assistance Program. Prior to 2012, the program had been promoted to approximately 4,500 low-income households served by HACM.
“The investment by the US Conference of Mayors has resulted in more people gaining the skills they need to become self-sufficient and achieve their financial goals,” says Mayor Barrett. “Their efforts help Milwaukee grow.”
Mayor Barrett served as keynote speaker for the event, which was held at the Housing Authority’s Hillside Family Resource Center, 1452 N. 7th Street.
“Financial literacy provides a solid foundation for residents to achieve their goals,” says Wendy Baumann, WWBIC president. “We are pleased to see record participation in the Make Your Money Work program this year.”
Participants attend an intensive four-week course that guides them through basic personal financial management strategies as well as introductions to home ownership, investing and starting a business.
Participants can open an Individual Development Account (IDA), which provides a two-to-one match for every dollar the participant saves. Graduates can use the funds to invest in a home, to pay for education or start a business.
“Make Your Money Talk is a hallmark partnership between the Housing Authority and WWBIC,” said Common Council President and HACM Board Chair Willie Hines, Jr. “The program has inspired low-income individuals citywide to achieve greater financial stability.” Since 2004, more than 800 low-income individuals have graduated, and more than 630 have opened IDAs and collectively saved over $240,000.
Graduates can combine their funds with the matching dollars to invest in a home, to pay for education or start a business. Sixty-two HACM participants have become homeowners and property taxpayers; 45 have invested in their education and 34 have started businesses.