More than Money: Financial Literacy Program Helps Low-Income High School Students Enter College

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Freedom Financial Network, Glow Foundation partner in grass-roots effort throughout Bay Area

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One of the roots of the financial crisis the United States has been experiencing is the lack of financial education and literacy, ultimately resulting in people living beyond their means, without a grasp on their finances. That education has to start with young people. With Glow, we are taking grass-root steps to make a real difference in the future of the American economy.

As everyone from the federal government to schoolteachers underscores the dire need for improvement in financial literacy among young adults, two Bay Area organizations are taking action – and sending high-potential, under-resourced high school students to college not only with scholarships, but with tools to make sure they get through school knowing how to manage their money and debt.

For the second year in a row, the non-profit Glow Foundation, based in San Francisco, is partnering with San Mateo-based Freedom Financial Network, LLC (FFN), parent of consumer debt settlement company Freedom Debt Relief, to help low-income high school students navigate the financial maze of applying for, entering and surviving college.

For many students, explains Peter Kim, executive director of Glow Foundation, it is more than having enough to pay for tuition, room and board. “High school students from lower-income families often are not aware of financial aid options, are frightened by the thought of borrowing money and are intimidated by the idea of managing money and debt – all of which make enrolling in college even more out of reach.”

True to Glow Foundation’s mission, FFN’s three-pronged efforts combine scholarship assistance with hands-on financial literacy efforts:

Financial contribution: FFN is contributing $30,000 to Glow for the 2010 fiscal year. The funds will support the development and administration of a school adoption mentoring program, the matching grant program for Glow student scholarships, and scholarships benefiting the students of the mentored schools. FFN’s contribution also provides support for Glow’s signature fundraising dinner.

Web-based financial education program: The online curriculum for which FFN funded development will be up and running this summer. The course will be available to the general public as well as Glow’s students. In addition, FFN is assisting Glow in the refinement of the more detailed course designed specifically for Glow’s students.

Mentoring: FFN employees serve as mentors for students in the Glow programs. This year, FNN will adopt one of Glow’s partner sites – generally a high school or college readiness program site. They will help the students, one-on-one, through the college application and financial aid application process, and assist each student in creating and using a personal financial budget.

The majority of Glow program students come from families with no history of college students, and few role models or guidance, explains Kim. “The chance for them to work side-by-side with personal finance experts offers invaluable support they can not get elsewhere.”

The FFN-Glow partnership speaks directly to some of the greatest needs in today’s society, says Andrew Housser, co-founder and CEO of FFN. “One of the roots of the financial crisis the United States has been experiencing is the lack of financial education and literacy, ultimately resulting in people living beyond their means, without a grasp on their finances. That education has to start with young people. With Glow, we are taking grass-root steps to make a real difference in the future of the American economy.”

About Glow Foundation (http://www.glowfoundation.org)
Glow Foundation provides financial education, mentoring, and scholarships to high potential, college-ready students from under-resourced communities. In addition to helping low-income students gain access to college education, Glow provides students with the critical financial literacy and planning skills that will help them succeed beyond their schools years.

Since its 2006 founding, the San Francisco-based non-profit organization has served nearly 550 students through its financial education program at partner schools and youth programs around the Bay Area, and has awarded scholarships to 90 students. Eighty percent of the organization’s students are the first in their families to attend college.

About Freedom Financial Network (http://www.freedomfinancialnetwork.com)
Freedom Financial Network, LLC (FFN), provides consumer debt resolu¬tion services through its Freedom Debt Relief and Freedom Tax Relief subsidiaries. Working for the consumer to negoti¬ate with creditors and lower principal balances due, the company has served more than 80,000 clients since 2002. The company holds Goldline Research Preferred Provider certification for excellence among debt settlement companies.

Based in San Mateo, Calif., FFN also operates offices in Sacramento and Tempe, Ariz. The company, with more than 600 employees, was voted one of the best places to work in both the San Francisco Bay area and the Phoenix area in 2008 and 2009.

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Aimee Bennett
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