The Louisiana Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy is redoubling its efforts to teach financial literacy — always a worthy goal but never more relevant than today. The nonprofit coalition, which was formed in 1998 as the Louisiana Financial Literacy Coalition before becoming affiliated with the national Jump$tart network, has a new target: people who are “unbanked and underserved.” In the beginning, the group’s focus was on K-12 students, then postsecondary students, and now those perhaps hardest to reach.
Ken Uffman, who organized the coalition in the late 1990s when he retired as president/CEO of the Credit Bureau of Baton Rouge, is passionate about getting the message across one way or another. He says there’s plenty of accurate information out there, but getting it into the hands of those who need it most is challenging. Uffman says the group wants to do pilot projects in eight sites around the state, including Baton Rouge, and hopes to use “the bully pulpit of the mayors to help call attention to resources that are out there.” Financial literacy is more important than it’s ever been, he says, with the rise of the “payday loan” industry and major credit card companies and their thousands of affiliates.
“The problem is how do you find these people if you don’t get them in schools? How do you find the dropouts?” Uffman says.—Steve Clark