ALA has joined forces with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) and local libraries to deliver financial education and resources to members of the military and their families across the country.
Members of the U.S. armed forces, Coast Guard, veterans, and their families face financial challenges often not adequately addressed by resources designed for the general public. ALA and NFCC will leverage local member agencies and libraries to help improve the financial lives of service members, veterans and their families.
ALA President Sari Feldman commented on the vital new initiative:
The Digital Age has seen libraries transform and be recognized as a critical part of the infrastructure delivering services to communities nationwide. It is a particular honor to be able to serve those who have sacrificed so much on behalf of all Americans – our veterans and their families. We are especially pleased to partner with NFCC, an organization that understands the unique financial needs of military families. Together, our organizations and local members will boost access to relevant and customized resources and learning where it is needed most.
Recent preliminary data from NFCC’s Sharpen Your Financial Focus™ (Sharpen) program reveals military families face unique challenges. For example, military Sharpen participants had higher unsecured debt balances ($400-$500 more) than the average Sharpen participant. Fewer tangible assets and higher debt-related expenses were also more common among these families. Relocation, frequent deployment, and changes in local economic conditions are likely among the factors influencing these impacts.
This new initiative emerged out of conversations related to the National Policy Agenda for Libraries, and how ALA and libraries may partner with others to build capacity and further expand services to meet community needs and/or advance the public interest. One of the identified community focuses in the policy agenda is veterans and military families. Roughly 22 million Americans are veterans of military service, and another 2.2 million currently serve on military active duty or in reserve units.
NFCC and ALA had the opportunity to discuss this unique partnership on the radio show, Home & Family Finance, which regularly provides practical financial information to its listeners across the country. It is nationally syndicated and airs on the American Forces Radio Network and Sirius/XM Satellite Radio.
NFCC member agencies will work with local libraries to offer financial education workshops, access to personalized counseling, and other resources that help families reach their financial goals and contribute to the economic stability of their neighborhoods. The workshops will cover subjects like housing, budgeting, banking, credit, permanent change of station (PCS) & deployment, and career transition into civilian life. Local libraries and certified counselors will select the most relevant and timely topics for their communities.
This collaboration builds on relationships and library services developed to meet the needs of veterans, service members and their families. One example of this work can be found in the Veterans connect @ the library initiative with California libraries and the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Close to 40 Veterans Resource Centers have been opened or planned to open this year to connect veterans and their families to benefits and services for which they are eligible.
NFCC and ALA will announce the local communities and libraries where the program will first be launched in the coming weeks. For more information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org