Mayor Megan Barry’s Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee has unveiled its report containing recommendations to build a more financially inclusive city by increasing financial literacy, empowerment and capability. Mayor Barry was joined at the announcement by committee co-chairs Eddie George, managing partner of Edward George Wealth Management Group, and Dr. Shawn Joseph, director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, as well as Paul Johnson, president/CEO of U.S. Community Credit Union, which announced an innovative new small-dollar loan for working Nashvillians who can’t qualify for traditional loans.
Since Barry launched the committee in September 2016, its members have worked in subcommittees to produce a report with short-, medium- and long-term actions. Barry charged the committee with developing a ‘Nashville Vision’ that provides a comprehensive approach to empowering low-income and moderate-income Nashvillians toward financial inclusion.
“Nashville has been experiencing terrific economic growth, but that prosperity has not been shared by all. I asked this committee to come up with ways to improve the financial well being of all Nashvillians. The recommendations in this report will help guide those efforts,” Barry said. “I’ve instructed my staff to move these ideas to action and complete implementation plans for each of them.”
Each subcommittee created a set of actionable strategies to 1) increase financial literacy, 2) empower residents in their financial decision-making and 3) increase access to financial capability.
Their recommendations fall under three target areas for improvement:
• Financial Literacy: Every student graduating from Metro Nashville Public Schools should be financially literate and understand basic financial concepts.
• Financial Empower-ment: Nashville needs to expand, grow and professionalize financial empowerment tools to empower its residents.
• Financial Capability: The city needs to increase access to the financial mainstream, meaning safe and affordable financial services, for all Nashvillians, regardless of cultural, societal or legal barriers.
In its report, the committee recommended opportunities for Metro and its educational, non-profit, financial, and legal institutions to prioritize financial inclusion to improve residents’ quality of life. Some key recommendations include:
• Clearly defining a consistent personal finance curriculum across the school system;
• Developing criteria and a process for re-credentialing of MNPS personal finance teachers;
• Forming a private-public partnership that reduces barriers to access workforce or post-secondary attainment;
• Finding new innovations that support access to small-dollar loan alternatives;
• Commissioning an impact analysis of proposed and existing court fines, fees and taxes and the collateral consequences affecting financial security and capability;
• Deploying pretrial pilot projects that substantially reduce incarceration rates, the associated costs and failures to appear;
• Protecting consumers against unfair and deceptive business practices by developing a consumer protection program
Discussions have already begun between the Mayor’s Office and several criminal justice agencies about how to implement financial justice strategies, including the use of text-message reminder systems to help ensure that additional debts are not created by a missed court date.
“Personal finance is an important component of a young person’s education,” said Dr. Joseph. “We need the right information at the right time for students to understand this importance, and our teachers need to be equipped with the right tools. Our team will be working with our local Federal Reserve to develop an enhanced training and re-credential process so our teachers are prepared.”
“In principle, personal finance is simple: maintain an active budget, spend less than you make, and save for emergencies and large purchases,” said Eddie George. “However, the process for how to do these things has become increasingly complex. We recommend expanding the capacity of our financial empowerment counseling services to meet these needs.”
“Community Develop-ment Financial Institutions across the country are working to improve the economic opportunity of low-income communities, and we are incredibly excited to continue this mission in partnership with the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center,” said Paul Johnson, president/CEO of U.S. Community Credit Union. “We are proud to partner with the Nashville FEC to pair a quality loan product with the financial counseling needed to repair credit and gain financial acumen.”
The Opportunity Loan is designed to help consumers pay off expensive debt and will provide qualifying clients with a loan option up to $4,000. The interest rate and the amount someone can borrow will be based on income, credit score, and ability to repay. Consistent payment will be positively reported to credit reporting agencies.