On Oct. 9, there are few places that Malinda Baker would rather be than the “Moving You Forward Opportunity Expo” taking place at Kettering University.
She says she’s planning on attending the large-scale resource fair, “because it’s an opportunity to efficiently learn about so many different local programs. So often services go unused, because people simply don’t know about them or how to access them.”
Baker, who is the Family/Community Support Coordinator for Bendle/Carman-Ainsworth Early Head Start says that there is added value in the personal connections that can happen in settings like the Expo.
“Many people are not internet people, they are face-to-face people; so having a chance to meet the people from an agency that can provide needed services greatly increases the likelihood that they will receive those services,” she says.
Recently, she saw this for herself when she reached out to Grace Taylor, Metro Community Development’s community outreach coordinator and Expo organizer. Baker invited Taylor to introduce Money Games: Understanding the Rules, to the parents of students who attend the Learning Community.
The Learning Community is a building in the Carman-Ainsworth school district that houses the district’s Early Childhood Education programs. The entire building serves children under the age of six. Baker works for the Early Head Start program, which serves low income families who are expecting a child, or have a child under the age of three.
For Baker, it was important for the families she serves to have the experience of Metro’s financial fitness program, which teaches things like budgeting, credit basics, how to save for an emergency, buying car insurance and how to own your home.
“Ninety percent of the families who come to the Learning Community are low income. Low income people are often exploited by financial institutions, so I felt it was very important for them to learn how to make wise money choices,” she says.
For Taylor, taking Money Games out into the community, and looking at financial education as something that whole family units need to be involved in, can be a gamechanger.
“It’s important to have all family members on the same page. That way they can encourage each other and have the same understandings and goals. The family is where education starts,” she says.
According to Taylor, parents can start teaching their children about money rules as soon as they are old enough to hold money in their hands and not put it into their mouth.
“It’s when they are old enough to say the words “‘I want.'” Or once they are able to ask for merchandise. That’s a great time to start showing them the rules of the game,” Taylor advises.
But, for many parents it can be intimidating if they don’t have the knowledge themselves. And if parents aren’t getting financial education then it becomes a little less likely that their children will get the education, possibly creating a cycle. “There is often a gap. But with some effort, it can be narrowed,” says Taylor. “One of the things that needs to be looked at is how changing the mindsets of whole family units can change financial outcomes.”
Looking for entry points for creating wealth consciousness among families is something that Taylor intends to further explore. While she has taken Money Games out to places like Joy Tabernacle Church, Oak Business Center and Howard Estates, she sees importance in honing in on the younger set. Building on work she did last year, Taylor is continuing to approach high schools to garner interest in having a Money Games session that involves graduating seniors learning alongside their parents.
“There is power in being able to have conversations about money within families. But in order to be able to have a productive, common conversation, the information needs to be given to both parties — parents and children,” Taylor stresses.
She adds that once the foundation is set for honest and informed dialogue, the enthusiasm and mutual motivation can be a springboard to moving a family forward financially. “A mother might say that they need to do a certain thing and her son might say that he heard of something that can help. And together they know that there are steps that can be taken to make their futures better.”
The Expo, of which Huntington Bank and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) are also presenting partners, will put all the information about resources families need to move forward and upward within reach.
Participants will be able to meet with financial aid, health, housing, insurance and neighborhood resource specialists, in addition to employers, bankers and area nonprofits, according to Taylor. Confirmed exhibitors include:
City of Flint
Flint Registry Outreach
Genesee County Habitat for Humanity
Genesee County Land Bank
Genesee County Prevention Coalition,
Genesee Health Plan
Genesee Health System
Greater Flint Health Coalition
Hamilton Community Health Network
Holy Cross Services
Huntington Bank (Workshop)
Hurley Medical Center
Kettering University – First Robotics Team (Demonstration)
Latinx Technology Community Center,
Legal Services of Eastern Michigan
LISC Communication Access Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Metro Community Development (Workshop)
MSHDA – Michigan State Housing Development Authority (Workshop)
Michigan State University-Flint Campus
Molina Health Insurance
Mott Community College
Mott Workforce Development,
National Kidney Foundation of Michigan,
Neighborhood Engagement Hub
Oak Street Health
Social Security Administration
Sovita Credit Union
Stroke Ready (Workshop)
Total Life Prosperity
United Way of Genesee County
USDA Rural Development
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Editor’s Note: The “Moving You Forward Opportunity Expo” will take place at Kettering University on Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.. The event is free and open to the public. Kettering University is located at 1700 University Avenue in Flint.
To learn more about Kettering University’s summer camps, visit the Kettering booth at the Expo or kettering.edu/precollege.