Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), in collaboration with the Financial Planning Association of New York (FPANY), provides a series of free seminars covering basic topics in financial literacy called MoneyWorks. These seminars are open to the BMCC community as well as the general public, and are typically given bi-weekly each semester, covering topics such as Setting Financial Goals and Budgeting, Understanding your Taxes, Buying or Renting Real Estate, Starting Your Own Business, amongst others. FPANY provides BMCC with Certified Financial Planners (CFP) who create and teach the curriculum that is taught each year, pro bono.
In 2006, Judith Volkmann and Clare Stentsrom of the Financial Planning Association of New York approached the administration at Borough of Manhattan Community College with a proposal to create a program where they would provide BMCC students and the general public with a solid foundation in the fundamentals of personal money and estate management— at no cost to the students. BMCC agreed to the partnership and, thanks in large part to a $100,000.00 grant from Merrill Lynch, MoneyWorks was launched in the fall of 2006.
MoneyWorks would have two components: The first being a competitive scholarship open to students who have completed at least 20 credits at the College with a GPA above 3.0. These students, called MoneyWorks Ambassadors, would be provided an award of up to $3,200.00 for the academic year, as well as a mentor from the FPANY. In return, they were required to attend all of the seminars and bring at least two people to each. The second component of the program involved a series of financial literacy seminars, which cover a broad range of basic financial topics, and are taught pro bono by members of FPANY.
From 2008 to 2010, MoneyWorks adopted a service learning component to the program when the college adopted the Accent on Student Success: Engaged Together in Service (ASSETS) program— a national initiative. ASSETS, which was a collaborative effort between several departments at the college(Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Grants and Development, and the Center of Continuing Education and Workforce Development) sought to solve the problem of inadequate financial education for young people through a two-part approach, which would spread financial literacy to both BMCC and its partner-high school students.
Faculty from BMCC's Business Management (Finance) and Accounting departments, using the existing MoneyWorks curriculum, outlined four important concepts which they could coach the MoneyWorks Ambassadors to teach to their high school level mentees— Personal budgeting, credit management, savings, and investment strategies. The MoneyWorks Ambassadors would commit to completing a minimum of two hours of coursework per month to learn how to teach these concepts to others, two hours of contact time with their mentors, and four hours each month providing service to their high school counterparts— all in addition to attending each of the MoneyWorks seminars.
The program provided a life-altering opportunity for many of the Financial Literacy Ambassadors who participated. Participants were equipped to make informed financial decisions, and were able to teach others to do the same.
The MoneyWorks program gained popularity at the College, and received over $200,000.00 in funds from Bank of New York Mellon from 2007 to 2010 to continue its mission. Unfortunately, in large part due to the fall-out from the financial crisis of 2008, the program lacked funding for the 2010-2011 academic year. While our partners at FPANY continued to provide the financial literacy seminars to BMCC students, for the first time since its inception there were no MoneyWorks Ambassadors. Knowing how enriching this program can be for students, the BMCC Foundation, Inc. agreed to fund the scholarship component of the program. In fall 2011 a new cohort of MoneyWorks Ambassadors was established, thus restarting the program in its original format.