Wayne State University launches pilot program focusing on financial capability

Wayne State University has launched a unique and innovative pilot program to help students develop personal financial skills that will help them achieve financial stability and independence.

Made possible through financial support from PNC Bank, Lake Trust Credit Union and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the pilot incorporates a holistic and high-touch approach with the small group of participating WSU students. The program is led by Julie Hollinshead, of Hollinshead Advisory Services and adjunct faculty of the Mike Ilitch School of Business, and Matt Roling, executive director of WSU’s Office of Business Innovation.

According to Hollinshead, each student in the pilot will set a measurable financial goal, personalized to their situation, and receive confidential one-on-one coaching to support achievement of that goal.

“By setting and achieving their own goals, the students’ financial confidence will increase as they gain experience applying personal finance skills,” Hollinshead said.

Participating students will also attend group sessions on personal finance topics selected by them. Led by Hollinshead and Latoya Hall, director of WSU’s Success After Financial Exploitation (SAFE) Program, these sessions are conversational and address each individual’s situation.

The pilot was developed based on high-impact and engagement strategies Hollinshead and her team identified from a scan of large urban public universities, a review of financial literacy activities at WSU and a needs assessment with student thought leaders at WSU. In addition to the Ilitch School and the Office of Business Innovation, additional partners include WSU’s School of Social Work and assistant provost for inclusive workforce development as well as Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency (Wayne Metro) and the City of Detroit’s Office of Financial Empowerment. The partnership with Wayne Metro and the city will provide professional financial counselors for confidential one-on-one coaching.

A critical component in getting the pilot off the ground, according to Hollinshead, was the initial investments from PNC Bank, Lake Trust Credit Union and MEDC.

“As a main street bank, PNC is invested in the financial wellbeing of our communities,” said Ric DeVore, PNC regional president for Detroit and Southeast Michigan. “This outstanding program at Wayne State University is consistent with PNC’s long-term efforts to provide essential financial education to thousands of students in the markets we serve. The timing coincides with the launch of Low Cash Mode, PNC’s new digital offering that helps Virtual Wallet and Virtual Wallet Student customers avoid overdraft fees through unprecedented account transparency and control to manage through low-cash moments or mistimed payments.”

Brandalynn Winchester-Middlebrook, Lake Trust’s senior vice president for culture and community engagement, said, “Lake Trust has a deep commitment to being an engine of financial wellbeing for the community. This pilot program offers the ability to connect with students and provide financial management knowledge and skills that will have lifelong impact for them and their families. We are grateful for the opportunity to bring financial wellbeing to the forefront in a university setting in partnership with Wayne State and program sponsors.”

“Personal finance is a 21st-century survival skill,” Hollinshead added. “The pilot provides students a supportive, non-judgmental place to learn financials skills that enable them to take control of their personal finances and use through life.”

At the conclusion of the pilot, an assessment will be done of the strategies used with the students and findings from the internal and external scans. Recommendations will be made on how to develop an interdisciplinary financial capability initiative for students that would involve the Mike Ilitch School of Business, the School of Social Work and other interested parties. For more information, contact Julie Hollinshead at julie.hollinshead@wayne.edu.

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