FPA chapter creates planning ambassadors

By Deborah Nason

Oct 12, 2008 @ 12:01 am (Updated 12:04 pm) EST

A public education program, jointly developed by the Financial Planning Association of New York and the Borough of Manhattan Community College, is creating a special corps of college-age advocates to spread the gospel of financial planning in the community.

The three-year-old program, known as MoneyWorks, has two components.

The first is a year-long, 12-session class, open to the public as well as to BMCC's student body. The free program reaches about 2,000 low-income, mostly minority attendees per year.

All the instructors are financial planners, who teach pro bono.

The second component is a competitive scholarship, awarded to about 35 "financial ambassadors."

Successful scholarship applicants receive a general scholarship of up to $2,800, and are paired with a mentor who is a financial planner. Students are also treated to instructional field trips to a restaurant for instruction in business dress and dining, and to the New York Stock Exchange.

Ambassadors must meet certain participation requirements during the year.

They must attend every MoneyWorks class, dress in business attire, bring two friends or family members to each class, complete an assignment after each session such as goal-setting or tracking a budget, meet with their mentors once a semester, and act as a financial mentor to high school students.

MoneyWorks topics include goals and spending, credit, business-related social skills, insurance, taxes, investing, saving, small business, retirement, real estate and wills.

"It's a great group to teach. I love working with the students and seeing how they develop," said Anja Luesink, a New York-based financial planner who helps match mentors and students, and assists in preparing the curriculum.

"It's gratifying to see how they absorb the financial planning concepts and apply them to their lives," she said.

MoneyWorks is underwritten by corporate grants. The Financial Planning Association of New York is the local chapter of the Denver-based FPA.

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