Recently, 100 students of the “Make Your Money Talk” financial education class heard keynote speaker City Treasurer Spencer Coggs give a talk on “Financial Freedom” at their graduation ceremony at Hillside Family Resource Center, 1452 North 7th Street.
Coggs stated “You are taking control of your future by participating and completing this course in financial literacy.”
Sponsored by the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM) and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), the 100 graduates had completed the classes they had taken since January 2015.
The graduation ceremony was the culmination and celebration of all of their hard work.
Nearly 1,500 low-income participants have gone through the courses since 2004, and the graduates have saved nearly $500,000 in their Individual Development Accounts (IDA).
The accounts are matched 2-to-1 for a total of nearly $1.2 million to date. For their efforts, eighty-six have purchased homes, sixty-two have paid for post-secondary education, and forty-one have even started their own businesses.
Like college graduation ceremonies, these graduates received certificates of completion.
Their courses included budgeting, credit, and debt. Treasurer Coggs concentrated on housing issues and home ownership.
He sought to inspire the attendees with a story he called “The Christmas Miracle”. Earlier this year, the Treasurer had made the daily newspaper with a citizen who was on the verge of losing her home due to a backlog of unpaid property taxes.
She had scraped together some of the money and even her neighborhood had come to her rescue, having bake sales, chicken dinners, and rummage sales on the block to provide additional funds. Still, she had come up about $2,500 short.
On the day before Christmas Eve of last year, her Alderman, Russell Stamper II, called Treasurer Coggs, and his Deputy Treasurer Jim Klajbor to plead her case.
Her taxes were due the day after Christmas, and if not paid, foreclosure proceedings would ensue.
The Treasurer and Deputy Treasurer made some desperate 11th hour calls and the Deputy was able to get a financial institution’s commitment to a short-term, low-interest loan for the citizen on Christmas Eve. Hence, “The Christmas Miracle” that saved her home from foreclosure.
Coggs said “In this instance, this lady took the 1st step, and city government responded.
You graduates are making a great first step, so your money doesn’t just talk, it walks and talks.”
WWBIC has been providing financial capability training in partnership with HACM for many years. HACM residents can participate in the nine hour “Make Your Money Talk” program and upon completion, enter into the matched savings program, called an Individual Development Account (IDA).
The IDA matches a participant saving with federal funds and non-federal donations. HACM has successfully provided that non-federal funding for many years.
In his concluding remarks, Coggs said he would continue to advocate for financial literacy in the City of Milwaukee.
“I was an advocate as a State Representative, I was an advocate as a State Senator, and now I’m an advocate as the City Treasurer,” stated Coggs.