Financial Literacy Boot Camp

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This article was published by IMARA Magazine July 23, 2018. The original article can be found at

The Columbia Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. teamed up with Grow Financial Federal Credit Union to sponsor a Financial Literacy Boot Camp for students at Allen University, Benedict College and the University of South Carolina. Held at the historic Chappelle Auditorium on the campus of Allen University, the Boot Camp focused on “The Reality of Money”. Facilitated by Marketing Manager Kayleigh Rich and Relationship Specialist Tommy Davis from Grow Financial, students participated in hands-on activities that taught them the importance of budgeting, the impact of credit scores, and the importance of saving or “paying themselves” first.  Each student was provided a budget worksheet which included their allotted monthly income and expenses.  They experienced simulated challenges of managing a budget and how “stuff happens” in life that can have a negative or positive impact on their finances.  Moans and groans could be heard from students who received unexpected expenditures such as car repairs, doctor bills and other real-life issues that put a strain on a budget. Others cheered as they received unexpected income to boost their budget.  The exercise also taught them the importance of establishing good credit, maintaining good credit scores and how their credit score impacts the interest rate they are charged when purchases are financed. The facilitators encouraged students to develop a relationship with their local bank and to engage in financial planning before making a purchase.

Lessons Learned

Robert Rollins, a junior at Allen University majoring in business, says his goal is to start his own financial consulting and accounting business.  He attended the workshop because he admits he has a problem saving money and buying items that he doesn’t really need.  Participating in the workshop helped him realize that he needed to push himself to only buy items that he needs. “The workshop taught me the value of saving money and that it’s not necessary to have expensive things in life, but to live a humble and modest life style,” he confessed. “I could have used my money better instead of spending the way I did.”  One of the most important things he says he learned about establishing credit is to apply for only one credit card, buy small items and pay them off instead of running up large credit card bills.  Rollins says he is hopeful that they will present the workshop to incoming freshman because he believes they can use the financial guidance that the workshop provided.

Dara Khaalid, a senior at the University of South Carolina majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in African-American studies says she heard about the workshop from her academic advisor, Chinell Singletary, who is a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.  Khaalid’s desire to further her education in the area of finances prompted her to attend.  “As I get older I want to make certain that I am preparing the best and most stable future for myself after graduation,” she explained.  For Khaalid, the Boot Camp really helped with her priorities. “I learned how quickly money dissolves due to life’s necessities.  I gained a better understanding of credit and how detrimental or advantageous it can be.  I also learned that I want to become financially stable before starting a family because I want to do everything in order.  The most important thing I learned at the workshop is the value of being a single woman with no kids.  This is the time in my life when I want to focus on bettering myself, saving money and planning a prosperous future. Marriage and children are a blessing but at the right time and in the right order.  I want to be whole and financially secure before I invite either into my life.”

Chauncey Phillips, a freshman at Francis Marion University in Florence, S C who aspires to be an orthopedic surgeon says that he found the Boot Camp extremely helpful because he has both personal and education related expenses and wants to better understand his financial status.  “No matter how much money you have in the beginning, you can always come up short when you have a lot of bills,” Phillips says.  “This workshop helped me to understand how a college degree broadens your opportunities to make a bigger income.”   He also shared that he considers himself to be a role model for his 15 year-old brother and wants to set a good example for him, including teaching him the importance of making good financial decisions.

Ellcentrell Phillips, chair of the economic empowerment committee for the Columbia Chapter of 100 Black Women, spearheaded the planning and implementation of the Financial Boot Camp stressing the importance of helping college students manage money. The Coalition’s philosophy is that financial literacy is the key to empowerment and helps to close the wealth gap. “You cannot build financial wealth if you don’t understand the power of money and how to make it work for you and your family.”  Phillips says there are more workshops in the making on home buying which will be open to the community.  For additional information on the Columbia Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and upcoming events go to http://www.

Left: Ellcentrell Phillips, Joyce Epps, Melita Heyward, Chinell Singletary, Connie Mitchell, Sharon Brunson, Right: Mary McClellan, Chapter President, Barbara Mitchell, Thrisha Shiver, Keiauntae Askins, Gwendolyn Fludd, Patricia Dillard
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