Literacy Connections has expanded its role in the community beyond helping residents become readers -- offering a free financial literacy program.
Bank On Wayne, based on the national model "Bank On," is for anyone who could benefit from basic education on the subject of finances.
Which essentially means everyone.
Students preparing to graduate from high school or college. Someone starting a new job that offers direct deposit. A couple purchasing their first home. Planning a budget. Preparing for retirement.
The program was picked up by United Way a few years ago and implemented in 2014. Not everyone has heard about it, though, said Lee Hulse, program manager or Literacy Connections.
"Our biggest challenge has been, we know this is a great program and we know it works," she said. "It's getting the message to the people who can benefit from it -- how credit works, how important having a budget is, or just how to balance a checkbook."
These are essential life skills, Hulse said, and the program is designed to ease the process of operating within the "financial mainstream," which equates to dealing directly with a bank.
"To operate within the financial mainstream is a better way to handle money as opposed to check cashing businesses, pawn shops, rent-to-own businesses, lenders that are sub-prime and that kind of thing," she said.
To get caught in that cycle can be difficult to get out of, not to mention costly. When the local United Way agency studied the Bank On program, it was determined to be worthwhile to introduce to Wayne County, along with some basic education to go with it.
"If you're going to encourage people to open a bank account, you really need to be able to help them understand how to manage the bank account," Hulse said.
The four-part class is offered every month at the Literacy Connections office on Ash Street. It is repeated each month and residents can jump in at any point, as each session is a stand-alone segment.
The free financial education workshops are taught on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. by representatives from 11 of the county's 12 banks.
It is a good foundation that residents at any stage of life could benefit from having, Hulse said.
"One of the things I get most excited about is the budget piece," she said, explaining that everyone needs to be aware "of what's coming in and what's going out."
The following is the schedule of workshops for each month:
First Tuesday: Money Matters, on preparing a spending plan, managing money and ways to decrease spending and increase income.
Second Tuesday: Check It Out Part 1, on using and managing a checking account
Third Tuesday: Check It Out Part 2, finding out how credit works
Fourth Tuesday: To Your Credit, reading a credit report and building and/or repairing your credit history. Registration is encouraged. For more info, contact Hulse at 919-731-1633 or Lee.Hulse@waynegov.com.