By TOM GODFREY
Low-income families in the Jane and Finch area are being offered financial literacy and life skills training so they can make better choices to turn their lives around.
The free program is being provided by the Jane-Finch Community and Family Centre (JFCFC) and will run from January until June next year, said Wanda MacNevin, the Director of Community Programs for the Centre.
MacNevin said the program is possible due to a $13,700 donation by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) Foundation for use to develop and educate residents about financial topics that matter to them.
“We are very delighted,” she told Share. “Now we can carry on our important work to help inform the community so they can make better choices.”
MacNevin said her instructors work with Credit Canada officials in training residents, who range from 20 to 50 years old, in money management, credit, banking, buying a house and buying or leasing a car.
“It is not a lot of money but it will help us run three programs,” she said. “There is a lot of information out there that people should know about to manage their finances.”
MacNevin said the literacy and life skills will be taught in three six-week programs, with about 15 students in each class. The program is free to residents of the Jane and Finch area who earn less than $30,000 annually.
“The classes will teach people about how to improve their financial literacy,” she said. “They are taught many skills including credit management.”
The program has other volunteers who help residents fill out their tax returns, legal forms and set a budget.
She said the centre has worked on cases that have led to the return to residents of about $1 million in outstanding funds.
“We work to return a lot of money to the pockets of low income people,” said MacNevin. “Many of them had never applied for child tax or other benefits.”
The centre has greatly expanded since its start in 1976 and now provides training in community engagement, youth leadership, social and recreational programs; including mental health, financial advocacy, women and seniors support groups.
It operates an award-winning poverty reduction program called Women Moving Forward that has so far helped more than 175 young mothers find jobs, ending the cycle of poverty for more than 300 children, according to the JFCFC website.
The agency also operates The Spot, a youth drop-in centre at Yorkgate Mall that offers programming and services for young people.
CAAMP’s vice-chair, Sam Carnovale, said his foundation is committed to supporting activities that foster the advancement of teaching methods and tools.
“The Jane Finch Centre works closely with its diverse community and partners to help build community capacity,” Carnovale told Share. “The funding will help increase their financial literacy and life skills by providing them with the opportunity to learn about money management.”
He said the knowledge will help residents to become more informed consumers, which in turn will help the community as a whole.
“The Jane Finch Centre shares the CAAMP Foundation’s vision and mission of advancement of education, including knowledge of financial literacy and responsible consumer borrowing,” said Carnovale.
The Foundation gives back to our communities and contributes to the well-being of Canadians in a variety of ways, he said.
We are committed to raising awareness of the importance of financial literacy by helping Canadians better understand their choices when it comes to their finances, said Carnovale.
The JFCFC is the winner of a Toronto Community Foundation’s Vital Ideas Award for the Women Moving Forward program; Best Practice Award for newcomer support by the Hispanic Teacher’s Association and is a 2009 Member Agency Spirit Award recipient from the United Way Toronto.