Alameda County CAN has three projects that are supported by our Policy and Systems Reform efforts: the Savvy Consumer Toolkit, Banking Menu and Financial Counseling Toolkit.
Financial Counseling Toolkit
The Financial Counseling Toolkit is a financial education and counseling project that will create a county-wide system for the provision of financial counseling services by collecting and distributing tools, including shared intake, referral, and outcome forms that leverage our collective resources. The Toolkit include an online resource and referral database designed for use in these efforts. We seek to provide clients and practitioners with the most complete toolkit, while practicing our belief that the most successful financial counseling is based on relationships and services along the income and asset building continuum. The outcome of our work is the online resource directory: Bay Area Asset Building Resources.
The Banking Menu
The Banking Menu is a banking/savings project to create and provide appropriate financial services to unbanked and under-banked residents. The project will go beyond other financial product efforts by recognizing that people have different financial needs and skill levels. This outcome of this project is an assessment tool to determine people’s financial product needs, readiness and preferences (including cultural), and provides a menu of options, all based on lessons from the financial counseling work. The Menu includes a pre-paid debit card, a banking program to open and sustain transactional accounts, and asset building components through a savings and planning project.
Savvy Consumer Toolkit
The Toolkit has been designed to help individuals build the skills to become more informed consumers and keep more of their hard earned money in their pockets and in their communities. The focus of the Toolkit is financial decision-making, especially in regards to analyzing and understanding financial products designed to take advantage of people. The Toolkit contains in-depth information on eight of the most common predatory products including how they work, their real cost to you and your neighborhood, questions to ask and local, low-cost alternatives.
Information on the following predatory products is included:
Payday loans Car Financing
Check cashing services Tax refund loans and checks
Rent-to-own services Credit Cards
Car title loans Prepaid Debit Cards
The materials are designed to help you deliver a single two hour stand-alone workshop, and includes suggestions for expansion provided for those who are interested in creating a series based on the Savvy Consumer Toolkit.
- Facilitator Manual – Designed to help prepare, deliver, and evaluate the workshop. The manual provides an overview of the curriculum content, its underlying education principles, and a step by step guide to facilitate each module.
- Slide Deck – Otherwise known as Prezi, Powerpoint, a slide deck is a series of images and graphics that present some of the workshop information graphically. The slide deck is created go along with the workshop.
- Participant Guide –Designed as a takeaway for participants that can be used as a reference guide after the workshop ends. The guide includes answers to questions about predatory products, the marketing strategies used by businesses in the fringe banking industry, a cost comparison of various financial products, and detailed information about low-cost financial product alternatives.
- One-Page Handouts – Designed to be a reference guide for use after the workshop ends, the packet includes a one page summary on each of the eight predatory products included in this curriculum. The one – pagers summarize what the product is, and answers to three questions: What should I watch out for? What is the real cost? What can I do to save money?
- Wallet Card Handouts – Designed as a quick reference guide for participants and community members, the wallet card handouts contain key “questions to ask” in order to help people avoid using predatory products for each of the eight predatory products included in the curriculum.
Policy & System Reform
In addition we recognize that policy and systems change are critical to realizing our mission and members share a commitment to working on those efforts together. Also, Alameda County CAN serves as a clearinghouse for information on income and asset development work countywide, offering networking and information sharing activities.