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DC FINANCIAL LITERACY COUNCIL UPDATE

In late 2007, the DC Council passed, and then Mayor Adrian Fenty subsequently signed into law, the “Financial Literacy Council Establishment Act of 2008”.  The legislation’s goal was to establish an advisory council that would identify strategies to promote and enhance financial education for all residents of the District of Columbia.  Mayor Fenty subsequently appointed seven members to the DC Financial Literacy Council (FLC) in 2008, but the effort lost momentum and became dormant for several years.  Thanks to the strong advocacy of numerous financial education stakeholders including the Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition, Mayor Vincent Gray and Councilmember Yvette Alexander resolved to refocus on the strategic importance of financial literacy.

In April 2012, Mayor Vincent Gray appointed seven members to the FLC, including representatives from the DC Public Schools (DCPS), the DC Department of Insurance Securities and Banking (DISB), the DC Chief Financial Officer’s office (CFO), the DC Council and the local business community.  The group was once again tasked with the responsibility to identify strategic solutions that will promote and enhance financial literacy during this critical economic period.

Mayor Gray appointed Tamara Haye Daufour to Chair the FLC, and lead the group through this “start-up” effort.  While the members of the council possess strong enthusiasm for our common purpose, developing the organizational structure, relationships with stakeholders and policymakers, crafting a common vision and organizational mission are hurdles the FLC is working to overcome.

The FLC has resolved the following vision to guide its work:

Our vision is to be a unifying strategic advisor that promotes financial literacy and education in the District of Columbia through organizational collaboration, communication and dissemination of information to residents, policy makers, education and financial services providers and other stakeholders.

The FLC’s mission is to:

1. Empower residents to achieve short & long term financial goals;

2. Assist and advice the Mayor & the Council in promoting financial literacy in the District of Columbia; and

3. Facilitate the coordination of public & private financial literacy and education services.

As you can imagine an overarching question for the body is how best to achieve this mission?  Aided by the counsel of financial education stakeholders during our monthly public meetings, the council resolved to create three subcommittees tasked with very specific objectives designed to achieve the overarching mission.

  1. Student Affairs Committee - Chaired by Brian Pick (DCPS) - The committee’s responsibility is to examine the critical needs of the District’s student population.  That examination will consider existing financial literacy programs, opportunities to expand the strategic partnerships with DCPS, the adoption of financial educational standards and the general needs of students.

 

  1. Resident Affairs Committee – Chaired by Clarice Wood (CFO) –The committee’s responsibility is to examine the critical needs of the District’s adult population. That examination will consider the economic needs of  DC’s residents including issues impacting seniors, fully leveraging the earned income tax credit, enhanced communication tools, educational tools and consumer protections.  The committee will focus on opportunities to create greater linkage between the educational efforts of third-party organizations and the District’s agencies as well.

 

  1. Advisory Committee – Chaired by Joseph Vaughan (ANC-4C) – The participation and counsel of external stakeholders are critical to the success of the FLC.  The advisory committee is responsible for critically important communication and engagement with all stakeholders in the FLC’s mission.

The authorizing legislation mandates a finite reporting structure for the council, and the FLC is working in an expedited fashion to meet that mandate.  Our goal is provide a preliminary report to the Gray administration and the DC Council.  Although it is critical to provide substantive recommendations in a timely manner, those recommendations must be informed by quantitative and qualitative analysis of the needs of DC’s residents.  To that end, the Student and Resident Affairs Committees are conducting research surveys and we welcome the participation of GWJ$ and its partners in that regard. 

Communication is essential to the success of this effort and we are hopeful the FLC’s website will be online in the early fourth quarter of 2012.  The website will serve as a forum to share information with and gather information from residents, stakeholders, financial education providers and policymakers in the District.  The council looks forward to sharing our minutes, meeting schedules, by-laws, reports and other timely updates via the site.

In closing, the FLC is an ambitious start-up organization with terrific enthusiasm.  We want to share this process with all concerned and hope you will consider the council and its partners a resource.  We appreciate your consideration and welcome the opportunity to help further your organizational goals by meeting the important financial literacy goals and needs of residents of the District of Columbia.