New FLAMES Money Savvy Scholars Program

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
FLAMES Money Savvy Scholars Image

The first seven FLAMES Money Savvy Scholars completed meetings and workshops to earn their certificate and $100 grant (one Scholar was unavailable for the photo).

“Some students are very comfortable talking about finances, and for some students—it’s harder for them to open up about the topic,” said Samantha Bolander, Financial Literacy and Money Education by Students (FLAMES) mentor.

FLAMES is a financial mentoring program to coach students at Truckee Meadows Community College in money matters. The FLAMES team was first developed at TMCC through a grant awarded by USA Funds, a national nonprofit corporation advancing preparation for and access to a college education.

Thanks to a new grant from Bank of America, FLAMES developed a new project for the Fall Semester called "Money Savvy Scholars." The first seven “mentees” completed it to earn their certificate and a $100 grant.

“They learned valuable information they can use in the real world, and on top of that they received a grant to help aid them with school expenses.” Bolander added.

To complete the project, mentees met with the FLAMES peer mentors for three sessions, completed homework and chose three of the approved FLAMES workshops to attend.

Meetings Focused on Goals

Each of the seven mentee students met individually with a FLAMES peer mentor.

“It was completely confidential,” Bolander said. “We tried to get them comfortable with talking about finances and their financial goals. The idea was to help mentees begin their way to reaching whatever financial goals they may have while learning the importance of financial literacy.”

The first meeting included a list of question and answers to help the mentors find out where each student stood in their knowledge of financial matters. They talked about whether a mentee has his or her own bank account separate from parents, either checking or savings. Other questions were related to credit and budgeting—whether they are establishing credit, know how to retrieve a credit report, and whether or not they know how to plan a budget.

Also, students were asked if they knew the status and amount of their financial aid and if they had explored any options to apply for work-study employment. The peer mentors helped the students with any applications, and then assigned homework. For example, a homework assignment might be to retrieve a credit report, print it out, and bring it to the next meeting with their mentor.

“Two of the mentees actually gained employment with TMCC, one with FLAMES and the other in the Cashier’s Office,” Bolander said.

The second individual meeting included checking progress on homework and going over questions that came up as students started refining their goals. If a homework assignment was to set up bank accounts separate from parents, the FLAMES mentor checked how that was going for the student.

The third and final meeting was to find out if there were any other important financial concepts for which the mentees still needed to be introduced. It was also to tie-up loose ends and record progress that was made by the students during the semester.

In addition to Bolander, FLAMES members participating in the individual coaching included the following mentors:

  • Allison Smith
  • Paige Richard
  • Sara Pearson
  • Victor Mendez-Medina

Newer FLAMES mentors are being trained to work with students individually on the project. The FLAMES staff supervisor is Shari Mathiesen, NSHE Specialist 2, who works in the TMCC Financial Aid Office.

Workshops Offered Throughout Semester

Mentees chose three workshops from the many sessions offered by FLAMES during the semester. Examples of the different workshops include the following:

  • Banking Demystified
  • Become a Money Master
  • Budgeting
  • Car Ownership Workshop
  • Control Your Credit
  • Credit 101
  • Day of the Debt Event
  • Employment
  • FAFSA
  • Payday Loans, Lunch ‘n’ Learn Session
  • Grants and Scholarship Workshops

“My mentees had no idea about credit, but once they figured out more about what it is and how to use it, it was an eye-opening experience for them,” Bolander said.

The Project is Hoped to Grow in Spring

Bolander said that the FLAMES mentors are hoping to grow the Money Savvy Scholars program in Spring Semester. In the Fall, the project was promoted specifically to serve first generation students who completed the Summer Bridge program. Mentors would like to open up the project to more students in the general student body.

“The FLAMES Money Savvy Scholars program has been a huge success,” Bolander said.

For more information, contact FLAMES or call 775-673-7263.