The Financial Education Center (FEC), a program of Dane County UW-Extension, was opened in 2005 in a low-income neighborhood in the South Madison area with the purpose of offering consistent, reliable and integrated financial education, counseling, asset building services and referrals in a central and familiar location. Historically, funding has come from foundation grants, financial institutions, utility providers and the local United Way. A 501©3, Friends of the FEC, was created to allow receipt of foundation grant dollars.
As the number of Dane County children growing up in poverty continues to grow, it is highly likely that their care-givers are not financially capable to consistently provide food on a daily basis. As low-income family care-givers struggle to make ends meet as a result of job insecurity, rising food and housing costs and decreasing public assistance programs, the impact on their children’s long-term health and ability to succeed in school is severely jeopardized. The FEC equips these families with the necessary skills to increase credit worthiness, reduce barriers to housing, and improve their overall financial capability. CHANGE TO DATA SUMMARY OF FEC’S WORK SINCE INCEPTION. In 2016, the FEC utilized 1.5 staff members, 216 volunteers and 13 community partnerships to make over 4,000 direct contacts with Dane County low-income families through workshops, one-on-one coaching and other services, such as volunteer tax assistance.