by Marnie Schaetti
Bow Valley College is Alberta’s fastest growing college, committed to nurturing the lifetime achievements of its students. It begins by helping them succeed in school through the counselling, scholarships and financial aid provided by its Learner Success Services. That’s where Stacie Baker shines.
Stacie’s passion is to make a difference in people’s lives. She wants to see students succeed. That’s why she’s so determined to help them overcome the financial barriers they face—barriers that can mean the difference between finishing school and not.
Government aid, while helpful and welcome, does not always guarantee the students’ financial wellness. “Students can access financial aid and bursaries,” Stacie says, “but if they don’t learn how to manage the money, they stay in the vicious cycle of debt and debt collection.”
Stacie wanted to find a way to intervene early in that cycle. She found it when she discovered Momentum’s Financial Literacy programs.
“Financial empowerment changes lives and builds futures.”
– Stacie Baker
Stacie is very clear about the value of partnering with Momentum. “Financial literacy is an essential life skill. It addresses and resolves root issues, and has a ripple effect through generations. It empowers people, brings confidence and pride, and is a stepping-stone to independence. I recommend these programs to everyone.”
Stacie and her co-workers took Momentum’s Money Management Train-the-Facilitator program in 2013. Today, information about financial literacy is a regular part of conversations about financial aid and bursaries, and coaching is always available. Once a semester, the College offers a one-day Budget Boot Camp free to all new students. Budget workshops are being integrated into regular classes. And evaluations from students have been overwhelmingly positive.
Next, Momentum’s matched-savings programs caught Stacie’s eye. She understood that building assets is crucial to moving out of poverty. Stacie put her post-secondary brain to work designing a program that would work in a college context.
The Matched-Savings Bursary was piloted in the fall. Students received money-management training and have their savings matched by the College 3 to 1. There were nine students in that first class and all of them saved the monthly maximum of $50—“More bang for their buck,” Stacie says—giving them each $800 to spend on anything that would help their education, from tuition to childcare.
As a parent herself, Stacie was sure that students would appreciate Momentum’s StartSmart Program. The program helps parents open Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) by using government grants, which are available even if parents do not have their own funds to contribute.
Stacie attended Momentum’s StartSmart Training and, in November, the College hosted its first annual RESP sign-up event. Over 100 people attended and six financial institutions helped families open 40 RESPs, accessing an estimated $40,000 to provide for their children’s future education.
Check out other stories from Perspectives: the 2014 year in review.