Grant Funding Will Help Bolster Financial Literacy Programs for State and Local Public Workers

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Recent research found that two-thirds of public employees are interested in workplace programs that provide guidance on how to better manage their finances.

Twenty-four state and local government organizations will receive a combined $1.4 million in grant money to establish or expand programs meant to help public employees better manage their personal finances.

Funding for the “financial wellness” initiative is from the Wells Fargo Foundation. Governments receiving the money will put it toward educational programs for employees that focus on areas like reducing debt, saving for retirement and reaching other financial goals.

The added support comes at a time when many states and local governments around the country are facing financial pressure brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, with some turning to options like furloughs, layoffs and pay freezes to help balance budgets.

Joshua Franzel, president and CEO of the Center For State and Local Government Excellence, noted that past research has found that there is strong demand among public sector workers for workplace financial literacy programs.

“We know that only 29% of state and local government employers offer financial literacy programs to their workforce, while 68% of public employees would participate in these programs if they were offered one,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Writing for Route Fifty earlier this month, Rivka Liss-Levinson, research director at the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, pointed to 2019 survey findings that showed 54% of public sector employees worry about their finances while at work.

Poll results the center released in June show that 56% of state and local public employees believed that they and their family had taken a financial hit from the pandemic.

Along with Wells Fargo and Center For State and Local Government Excellence, the International Public Management Association For Human Resources and the National Association of State Treasurers’ Foundation are collaborating on the financial literacy initiative.

Grant recipients are spread across 17 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They range from the small town of Victor, New York, with about 15,000 residents, to a water authority that serves California’s San Diego County, to the Nebraska Treasurer’s Office.

“A public sector employee with financial security will be happier, more engaged, and in a better position to serve,” Cara Woodson Welch, executive director of the International Public Management Association For Human Resources, said in a statement.

The organizations involved in the initiative plan to hold a free webinar on Sept. 30 where they’ll  discuss financial wellness programs. More information on that event can be found here.

Bill Lucia is a senior reporter for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.

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