Financial literacy has continued to be an issue in Rice County, and with limited resources available, a training opportunity is on the horizon.

In years past, there have been programs designed to improve financial literacy, including the “Financial Literacy Summit” and “Money Matters in Rice County.” Dayna Norvold, Rice County Habitat for Humanity executive director, said all these events have been leading up to the latest training opportunity.

The Summit took place in August where they “framed” the issues, which led to the Money Matters program, where they created the framework to continue moving forward.

“Now, we’re going to train some providers from Social Services, banks and community education,” she said. “We’re looking for financial planners, educators, just average people who can teach a class about budgeting.”

Rice County Habitat for Humanity is leading the effort, with assistance from Community Action Center of Northfield, the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative and Lutheran Social Services, to develop more financial literacy classes and mentorships throughout the county.

The two-day training, which Lutheran Social Services will provide, focuses on the four cornerstones of financial literacy, developed by Darryl Dahlheimer:

• Budgeting to create savings

• Debt reduction and asset building

• Building a good credit rating

• Consumer protection and financial institutions

Dahlheimer, Lutheran Social Services program director, said although personal finances is a topic that people have a wide interest in, it isn’t something that people talk about; at times it can even feel shameful, he said.

“It’s a really important need in a lot of communities, but a lot of people don’t know where to turn,” he said.

The program is geared toward people who want to engage and motivate others to take control of their financial lives. Dahlheimer refers to these people as front-line workers, “people who are right on the front lines of helping others.”

This “train-the-trainer” concept that Dahlheimer will bring to Northfield, is focused on the community as a whole, rather than just one segment of the population.

“It’s a community issue, many of us of all income levels are struggling with this,” he said.

However, with a lower income, organizing finances can be that much more important.

Norvold said of the 22,321 households in Rice County, 30 percent make less than $35,000 each year. In Faribault alone, that number goes to 40 percent and remains at 30 percent in Northfield.

“That is a challenge if you’re trying to raise a family,” she said. “You can do it when you have good financial literacy skills, but it’s a challenge.”

One of the reasons financial literacy in Rice County is particularly difficult is because there is no single organization with a mission working to tackle the issues, Norvold said.

That is what led to the training, in an effort bring together a number of organizations that can further their education and in turn be a resource for people in the community throughout the future.

“I really believe for people to make financial changes it comes out of a relationship, someone who is encouraging them to do better,” she said.

There are currently 26 people registered for the training, which is limited to 40 people. Those interested in attending the training are asked to visit http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e9o4w75i6915952f&llr=z9lnz5eab.

Brad Phenow covers Rice County government, townships and arts & entertainment. Reach him in Faribault at 333-3135 and in Northfield at 645-1122.

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