Michigan’s Building Your Financial Future Program Contents

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Michigan’s Building Your Financial Future Program

1. Executive Summary for 2006 Grant Application

2. Application Information and Guidelines
3. Local Site Funding Application
3. Employment Benefits Tip Sheet
4. Michigan Loan fund tip Sheet
5. Medical Bills tip sheet
6. Financial Assistive Technology

Section 1: Executive Summary

Provide a two-page (maximum) overview of the application, incorporating key points from Sections 2-7.

Financial Health Credit Union is seeking funding to build upon and expand the financial education and outreach program, Building Your Financial Future, which was funded through an NCUF grant in 2005 and is geared towards people with disabilities in the state of Michigan. Research and experience has demonstrated that large numbers of people with disabilities, both young and old, struggle with managing their finances and building the equity and credit history they need in order to lead successful lives.

The first year of the “Building Your Financial Future” financial education project was quite successful and taught us many lessons, which our final report will elucidate. This application is for 2006 funding in the amount of $150,000, which will be used to expand the scope of the program to include meeting the needs of youth with disabilities, continued outreach to adults, including Spanish-speaking persons, with and without disabilities, to recruit and strengthen the credit union partnerships with disability organizations, and to add an educational component for credit union staff on serving the needs of members of the disability community.
During year one (2005), adults with disabilities at more than 30 locations around the state had an opportunity to gain financial literacy skills using the Money Smart curriculum. The training was well received, and their responses indicated that the new financial skills had an immediate impact on their lives. With the feedback from participants, trainers and partners who took part in the 2005 “Building Your Financial Future” project, it is apparent that both participants and trainers gained crucial, life-changing financial knowledge from these sessions.
The goals of this project are to extend this important financial education to a wider audience and accomplish much more with a second year of funding. We envision the following components for the proposed 2006 “Building Your Financial Future” project:

  1. Financial literacy for youth: Many local sites have found a need for financial education for students with disabilities who are transitioning out of high school. Many high school students, including students with disabilities, do not understand budgeting, savings, building a positive credit history, and the importance of developing a relationship with a financial institution. With funding for 2006, courses offered by local sites will be expanded and adapted to include materials appropriate for high school students with disabilities. In addition, a “Reality Store” will be incorporated into the curriculum. In the Reality Store demonstration, students pick a career of interest to them, receive a paycheck for a month’s pay for that job, and travel around the room to booths simulating what their life will be like… paying bills, dealing with emergencies, learning about financial institutions, and asking for help from appropriate social service agencies when necessary. It has been found to be a very effective teaching tool for this population.

  1. Education for Credit Union staff in serving the disability community: Credit union staff that participated with local sites in the “Building Your Financial Future” project in 2005 have expressed an interest in learning how to best meet the needs of their members with disabilities. Credit unions could benefit from learning more about the financial services needs of this under-served group as well as appropriate communication tips and devices for interacting with people with disabilities.

  1. Continue and expand financial education for adults with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities: We will train more trainers, and build stronger partnerships with credit unions. In addition, we will outreach to Spanish-speaking members of the disability community with this financial education project.

  1. Promotion of “Building Your Financial Future” to the public. In the 2005 grant year, we produced a powerful video about the disability population and the need for financial education. This video will be widely distributed to libraries, intermediate school districts, and cable-access channels in 2005. In 2006 we will expand the reach of the BYFF message through wider distribution and viewing of this video.

  1. Asset building savings and loan products: FHCU will continue to offer the Asset Building Savings account which was offered in 2005, and will develop other financial products targeted to low-wage workers and persons with disabilities who participate in the MoneySmart financial education program.

The project will continue to be operated in conjunction with the disability organizations that administer the Michigan Loan Funds (The Assistive Technology Loan Fund and the Tele-work Loan Fund). If this grant is fully funded $229,000.00 in federal funds will be leveraged for the Michigan Loan Funds. Financial education is a crucial component to financial success. The “Building Your Financial Future” 2006 project builds on the work accomplished in 2005, and supports the goals of the Michigan Loan Funds, which are to enable persons with disabilities to become fully participating members of society and to be able to pursue economic endeavor. This project also will demonstrate the important role credit unions play in economic development in their communities.

Building Your Financial Future
Thank you for your interest in participating in the Building Your Financial Future (BYFF) program. Building Your Financial Future is a program of the Michigan Loan Funds through the Financial Health Credit Union and Michigan Disability Rights Coalition funded by the National Credit Union Foundation.
This program is now in its second year. During the first year, almost 1,000 people in Michigan received financial literacy skills to help them achieve a better financial future.
Application Submission

We appreciate your efforts to help people access financial education in your local community. This application provides a way to support your efforts.

Please fill in the following application and submit it via email, preferably in Microsoft Word format, to Aimee Sterk at Michigan Disability Rights Coalition. Applications are due: April 21, 2006.
Contact Information

Mailing Address:

Telephone: (800) 760-4600 ext. 29 or (616) 797-9769

Fax Number: (517) 333-2677

Email address:aimee@match.org
Here are the steps to successfully completing this application:
Step 1: Review this document and contact Aimee Sterk with any questions.
Step 2: Submit an application by April 21, 2006.
Step 3: Receive word on application from MDRC by April 28, 2006.
Step 4: Successful applicants will send two trainers to the Train the Trainer seminar in Lansing. At these seminars, trainers will learn about all the tools they will use in presenting this program. Travel and accommodation costs will be reimbursed by the grant.


May 11, 2006 for those who participated last year

May 24-25, 2006 for new trainers/sites

Step 5: Receive notification of grant amount and contract from MDRC by June 2, 2006.
Step 6: Complete the proposed activities of Building Your Financial Future with support of MDRC, FHCU, MSUE and local funders.

Here is the Activities Summary from our successful grant application to help you understand our plans for this grant:

1)      Building Your Financial Future Youth Education Program
The Financial Health Credit Union (FHCU) in partnership with Michigan Disability Rights Coalition (MDRC), local credit unions, and 15 local social service agencies will offer Building Your Financial Future Youth Education Programs in at least 20 locations around the state.
In the first year of this program, several local sites illuminated the need to teach financial literacy skills to youth who are transitioning out of high school and/or are participating in technical education programs. By reaching out to students before they are inundated with credit card offers and the resulting, sometimes insurmountable debt, this program will provide them with the financial education skills they need to achieve financial independence. In addition, the students will build lifelong relationships with credit unions they trust. These credit unions will provide sound financial advice and counsel in the future as the teens move on to careers, home ownership, and families.
The Building Your Financial Future curriculum will be expanded upon to include materials that meet the needs of high school and college-aged students with disabilities.
In addition to these modifications, local sites will be trained to incorporate a Reality Store into the curriculum. After students participate in Building Your Financial Future, local sites will host a Reality Store for the entire school or a significant portion of the school. This will allow an even greater number of people to benefit from this grant. The Reality Store was created by the Business and Professional Women's Organization to help teens start thinking about their future, consider what financial resources they will need for their desired lifestyle, and think about the role education will play in enabling them to achieve their personal and professional goals.
In the Reality Store, students envision their lives in their mid-20s--what job they will have, their marital status, where they will live, etc. They are given a mock checkbook with a deposit equal to one month's salary in their chosen field. Students then visit booths, manned by local community members, to pay their monthly bills. At each booth, students make decisions based on the standard of living they have assumed. As they go from booth to booth in the store, they begin to see reality take shape and learn the need for planning and budgeting. In their classrooms following the Reality Store, students will discuss the impact of the choices they make today on their standard of living in their future.
2)     Building Your Financial Future Adult Program
Building on 2005, in the second year of the program, the Credit Union will collaborate with MDRC, local credit unions, disability/social service organizations and the Michigan State University’s Extension (MSUE) to provide Building Your Financial Future to adults with a special focus on outreach to Spanish-speaking community members with disabilities. Two or three local sites will host Building Your Financial Future classes in Spanish.

The Building Your Financial Future adult program will continue to demonstrate the benefits of using a credit union and using credit wisely, so that participants will be able to increase their financial security and plan for their futures. The focus of the program will continue to be assisting people with disabilities and/or people with low income to learn how to:

        read a credit report;

        repair credit history;

        establish good credit skills;

        create and maintain a budget and checkbook; and

        develop a savings plan.
In addition, participants will be taught about identity theft. During the 2005 program, information on identity theft was provided using the United States Postal Service DVDs that Michigan State University Extension was able to procure for local sites. In their evaluations, participants reported that this information was very useful.
3)  Disability Awareness, Etiquette, and Assistive Technology for Credit Union Staff: Building Relationships Between Credit Unions and Disability Site Professionals
This past year, some local sites indicated that credit union staff seemed uncomfortable interacting with people with disabilities. Credit union staff requested information on disability etiquette and the use of acceptable language to describe and relate to people with disabilities. In addition, many advocates and credit union staff members are not aware of assistive technology devices useful in financial institutions. Local sites also pointed out the need to educate credit unions about the Michigan Assistive Technology and Telework Loan Funds.
In order to address these needs, MDRC staff will develop a separate module for local sites to present to credit unions. This module will cover disability etiquette, assistive technology in financial institutions, and the Michigan Loan Funds. MDRC will purchase affordable relevant assistive technology devices for use in this module.
Strong credit union partnerships with the sites will help to sustain the financial education commitment to this growing population in communities throughout the state
Additional Information

If you would like to review an accessible copy of the Money Smart Curriculum go to:

If you would like to review the youth curriculum go to:
If you would like more information on the Reality Store go to:

Local Site Funding Application

Organization Name:

Main contact person and title:

Trainers (We would like to have two trainers from each partner organization, one trainer may be a staff person at your local credit union if you prefer. Trainers can be new to the program or a successful trainer from the first year of this grant)
Trainer Name__________________ Phone: __________ E-mail____________

Brief description of qualifications as a trainer:

Trainer Name__________________ Phone: __________ E-mail____________

Brief description of qualifications as a trainer:


We can only contract with a 501©3 organization. Please indicate how you are fulfilling this requirement.

 We are a 501©3 non profit. Tax ID number:__________________

 The following 501©3 non-profit has agreed to be the fiscal agent for this project: Name_____________ Tax ID number:_____________________


Contact person:________________________________________
Building Your Financial Future Program

Each local site will be required to teach Building Your Financial Future to a minimum of two out of the three types of groups below. Please indicate which groups you will teach (you must select two or more) Please note, we will make selections of subcontract partners to best meet the needs of the most people in a way that covers as much of the State of Michigan as possible:

Youth with Disabilities including a Reality Store component (MDRC will reimburse local sites at a rate of $75 per youth trained in Building Your Financial Future not including the youth who participate in the Reality Store, $5 per youth trained will go towards opening a savings account at your local credit union partner—we realize that those under 18 need parent permission) *We expect that the Reality Store component will reach at least 40-50 youth each time you offer it.
Adults with Disabilities (MDRC will reimburse local sites at a rate of $65 per adult trained in Building Your Financial Future,$5 per person must go towards opening a savings account at your local credit union partner if the participant has not already done so)
People with disabilities whose preferred language for learning is Spanish (MDRC will reimburse local sites at a rate of $75 per person trained in Building Your Financial Future in Spanish, $5 per person trained must go towards opening a savings account at your local credit union partner if the participant has not already done so)
Please check the following boxes indicating your agreement with the requirements:

We will provide information to all participants about the Assistive Technology and Telework Loan Funds.

*MDRC and UCP Michigan will provide materials and, when available, staff to present to your groups on these opportunities.

*Agencies participating in the loan fund will help you promote your program by providing loan fund applicants with information about your classes.

We will demonstrate financially-related assistive technology for people with disabilities.

*MDRC will provide the necessary training to help you provide this demonstration as a part of your course work.

We will provide the trainings at an accessible location.

Local sites will be required to document a minimum of $1,000 in in-kind or cash match toward the successful completion of this grant.

Credit Union Partners

Each group is required to have a credit union partner. This partner organization must agree to assist you in implementing the Building Your Financial Future program in your area.

At a minimum, credit union partners must be willing to help participants open accounts, and teach the section of the curriculum that explains the difference between credit unions and banks.
Please select one of the following:

We have credit union partner(s). They are:

Name of Credit Union:_______________________

Contact Name:_____________________________

Phone Number:__________________ Email:_____________________

We need assistance in locating credit union partner(s). We have notified Adeline Metzler at Financial Health Credit Union to notify her of this need (517) 319-1303 or email Adeline.metzler@fhcu.org. We are interested in partnering with the following credit unions/we need partners in the following cities or counties________________________________________________

Each site will be required to teach a small seminar to the staff of your credit union partner on disability awareness. MDRC will provide the materials for this seminar.
Please indicate your willingness to teach this seminar below by checking the box below:

We are willing to teach a disability awareness/etiquette seminar to my credit union partner.

Airing of DVD on Cable Access

Please indicate your willingness to assist in the airing of the DVD by checking the boxes below.

We will mail or hand-deliver the Building Your Financial Future DVD produced last year to at least 2 cable access stations in our area. MDRC will provide copies of the DVD to all local sites.

We will contact the stations and verify receipt and possible air times.

Please indicate your willingness to participate in the evaluation process by checking the boxes below:
We will survey all participants in the Building Your Financial Future program and return the surveys to MDRC for tabulation within two weeks of each final class period. MDRC will provide the survey instrument.
We will submit a final narrative report (a maximum of 3 typed pages) that documents the number of people trained, the locations of the trainings, hints and tips gained from implementing the program, and provides quotes or stories from participants for MDRC to include in the final grant report. Final reports are due by December 22, 2006.
Why do you want to participate in “Building Your Financial Future?”

How does it fit your organization’s mission, current work, community needs?

Please describe your outreach plan for Building Your Financial Future. How will you make sure people with disabilities and youth are aware of this opportunity? Who will you work with to spread the word?

How many people do you plan teaching through this project? Youth? Adults? People who speak Spanish? (Please list each group separately). Please note; all trainings must be complete by December 15, 2006. You may offer the training sessions as many times as you like to reach your goal of people trained by December 15th.

At how many locations do you plan on offering Building Your Financial Future? For example you might run one course at a local high school, one in the evening at the library and one during the day at your office. That would be 3 locations.

Do you anticipate continuing to offer this type of training after December 31, 2006 when the National Credit Union Foundation grant ends? If yes, please describe your plans. Please note, preference will be given to groups who plan to offer trainings after the end of the grant period.


In an effort to simplify the process for participating sites, we have used the cost information from successful sites last year to determine that the average cost per participant trained was $55. We used that amount to structure the payment method for students this year, with the understanding that teaching youth requires extra time to implement the Reality Store and teaching people in Spanish requires additional expertise.

How many youth do you expect to train ___ multiplied by $75 = _____?

How many adults do you expect to train ____ multiplied by $65 =_____?

How many people do you expect to train in Spanish ___ multiplied by $75 = _____?
TOTAL amount requested: $_______ (we are expecting an average of $4,200 per site or 60 total people trained at each site, we welcome you to apply for more or less, but please understand that adjustments may need to be made to your plans based on the successful applications received)
How do you propose to generate the $1,000 of in-kind or cash match? For example, it could be donated meeting space, donated staff time, or contributions from a local foundation or corporation in support of your work.

Employment Benefits

SSI and SSDI Overview
The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two programs for disability benefits: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). Both programs pay out benefits to recipients, SSDI based on prior payments into Social Security, and SSI based on financial need. People eligible for SSDI will be eligible for Medicare coverage and people eligible for SSDI in Michigan are eligible for Medicaid, which help cover medical expenses.
People on SSI and SSDI can only earn a certain amount before their benefits start being reduced. However, there are incentives and programs that allow people to get back to work or save towards a specific goal.

Work Incentives and Employment Supports
When going back to work, many people with disabilities on SSI or SSDI want to protect their benefits. There exist a number of Work Incentives from the Social Security Administration to help people on SSI / SSDI go back to work without losing their benefits. These include:
Trial Work Period
The trail work period allows you to test your ability to work for at least nine months. During the period, you will receive full SSDI benefits regardless of your income. After this period, if SSA decides you cannot work at the Substantial Gainful Activity level, your benefits will continue. If they decide you can work at the Substantial Gainful Activity level, your benefits will not.
Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)
A plan to help you achieve self support (PASS) allows you to set aside income and/or resources for specified time for a work goal. It is available to anyone who receives SSI. For example, you could set aside money for education. Money earned under your PASS is not counted when your SSI payment amount is calculated.
Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE)
The cost of items and services that are needed for people with disabilities to work can be deducted when calculating SSI / SSDI benefits. These expenses could include such things as adaptive equipment and personal care services.

Finding Help With SSI / SSDI Programs
Benefits, Planning, Assistance, and Outreach (BPA&O)
The Benefits Planning, Assistance, and Outreach Project (BPA&O) is a federally funded initiative to educate and assist individuals with disabilities, and those who support them, to understand the benefits and risks of going back to work, and/or increasing their work income. The goal of the Project is to assist individuals to have a better quality of life and contribute to their communities as working citizens.
This project is for people with disabilities who receive either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or both. The program helps people understand Work Incentives programs of Social Security, so that they may be able to go to work and protect their benefits.
The state has been divided geographically:

  • For the Upper Peninsula, contact UCP Michigan's Marquette office at (888) 873-8812.

  • For the northern lower peninsula (from Muskegon County up on the west side, contact UCP Michigan's Traverse City office at (800) 211-1356 or (231) 932-1660.

  • For central Michigan and the thumb area, contact UCP Michigan's Lansing office at (800) 828-2714 or (517) 203-1200.

  • For southern and southwestern Michigan, contact Arc Michigan at (800) 292-7851.

  • For Oakland and Macomb Counties, contact UCP of Metro Detroit at (800) 827-4843.

  • For Wayne County, contact Goodwill Industries at (313) 964-3900.

  • Also, visit the BPA&O website: http://www.ssabenefitsplanning-mi.org/

Social Security Administration Website
The Social Security Administration website contains extensive information about SSI / SSDI and Work Incentives. It can be found at: http://www.ssa.gov.

Michigan Loan Funds
Loans can be used to purchase equipment to work from home or assistive technology (AT). AT is any item, piece of equipment, or device that enables an individual with a disability to improve individual independence and quality of life. There are two loan funds in Michigan that can help with the purchase of AT and with the purchase of equipment to work from home.
Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund
The Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund allows people with disabilities and seniors (or their family members) to purchase assistive technology devices or services, including modification of vehicles and homes. Loans may also cover cost of training to use the purchased equipment, warranties, and service agreements.
If you would like to apply for a loan to purchase any item or piece of equipment that will help you improve your independence and overall quality of life, contact the Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund at 1.800.828.2714, info@michiganloanfunds.org, or visit our website at www.michiganloanfunds.org.

Michigan Telework Loan Fund

The TeleWork Loan Fund allows people with disabilities to purchase equipment needed to work for an employer, or become self-employed, from home or at a telework center. Loans can be used to purchase any mechanical or electronic devices or apparatus, software or telecommunications systems necessary to perform telework. You may also use your loan money to cover the cost of training to use the equipment, maintenance agreements and expenses for the equipment, and extended warranties for the equipment.

Examples of items you can purchase with your telework loan are: computers, printers, software, fax machines, scanners, office machines, tools, telecommunication devices, office furniture, appliances, home modifications for accessibility and/or to create an accessible home office, and assistive technology, if it’s needed to work from home.

For more information, contact the Loan Fund manager at 1.800.828.2714, info@michiganloanfunds.org, or visit our website at www.michiganloanfunds.org.

Medical Bills

A number of things specific to Medical Bills make it worth exploring them in greater detail:

  • Medical bills are the cause of roughly half of all bankruptcies in the United States.

  • Medical bills can be extremely large.

  • The reason a medical bill is on a credit report may be because of an insurance company’s slowness in paying the bill.

  • As a group, people with disabilities tend to have higher medical bills than people without disabilities.

Insurance Companies and Medical Bills

Medical bills on a credit report are often the result of an insurance company’s refusal to pay or delay in paying the medical provider. For example, even though you have medical insurance, you may have a $1,000 bill from a hospital that the insurance company does not reimburse in a timely manner. When a bill is not paid in a timely way, the hospital can report your unpaid bill to a credit bureau so it goes on your credit report, bringing down your credit score.

Dealing With Medical Bills on Credit Report
The best way to try to deal with this situation is to keep in constant contact with your medical provider and your insurance company.
Let your medical provider know that the insurance company should cover your bill and that you are working with the company to make sure this happens. Contact them after each bill or statement is received. If the provider knows the reason the bill has not been paid and that you are working on the problem, and it will be much less likely to report the bills.
Let your insurance company know that you need the bill to be paid. Know your insurance policy and procedures. Periodically check in with them to determine its status, and make sure that they are reimbursing the medical provider for services your contract says they must reimburse. Also, carefully review each Explanation of Benefits received from the insurance company and compare charges to the original bills. Keep these records.
As with any advocacy effort, be sure to keep a notebook of the person you talked with, date and time of conversation, and summary of the discussion.
Additionally, if you are applying for credit and know that you have medical bills that are ruining your credit score on your credit report, let your financial institution know the reason for the low credit score. It may be willing to be more flexible with you if it knows the reason for the credit score and that you are working to fix it. A letter from the medical provider explaining the charge and actions you have taken may be sufficient to get credit while you wait for the unpaid medical bills to be removed from your credit report.
Finally, if you verify that you owe it, pay it.  If the amount creates a hardship, contact the medical office and state so. Some providers may write off all or a portion of the bill.

Establishing A Relationship With Your Financial Institution
When you apply for credit, no matter what your credit situation, it is always helpful to establish a good relationship with the financial institution you are applying to. It is much more likely to work with you if it knows you.
For example, you can establish this relationship by opening a checking / savings account with the financial institution – it is much more likely to work with someone who has had a savings account with it for a number of years. You can also establish a relationship by just going into the institution and talking with the personnel face to face. Doing this does not guarantee you will get credit, but your chances of success are much greater.

Financial Assistive Technology
Talking Calculators

All talking calculators and the talking memos were purchased from Hear More Products website: www.hearmore.com

(800) 881-4327

TTY: (800) 281-3555
Items we demonstrated:
Spanish Talking Calculator $14.95

Pocket Sized Calculator with Time $10.95

Big” Number Talking Calculator & Alarm Clock $9.95

Coin and Dollar Counting Calculators

Both coin counting calculators were purchased from

PCI Educational Publishing. They are useful for people who have cognitive disabilities to assist them in counting their money. PCI’s website is www.pcicatalog.com, phone:

(800) 594-4263.
Items we demonstrated:

Money Calc $21.95

Coin-u-lator $19.95
Personal Financial Management Systems

Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Envelope System can be purchased through Amazon.com used for $5.95 or through www.daveramsey.com for $19.95. This system works well for everyone and is especially useful for people with cognitive disabilities to track their spending according to their budget.
The Personal Financial Management Kit for people who have low vision includes a large print check and deposit register, plastic check writing guide, check and deposit register, plastic letter writing guide, 20/20 pen, signature guide, expense payment log, plastic folder and a beeping calculator. The kit we demonstrated was purchased for $21.95 from Independent Living Aids, inc.

www.independentliving.com (800) 537-2118.
Microsoft Money Standard ($25.99) and Quicken Personal Finance ($29.95) can be purchased from most stores that sell software. Neither program is accessible for screen readers.
Talking Checkbook Software can be obtained for free to demonstrate to potential buyers from the grant portion of Premier Assistive Technology website: www.readingmadeeasy.com

The cost of the program itself is usually $59.95.
ARC/Advocacy & Resource Center of Ottawa County has a curriculum and budget book that were specifically designed for people with cognitive disabilities the entire package costs $35. It includes an envelope system similar to Dave Ramsey’s and can be ordered from Rose Redmond by calling (616) 399-5520. You can see a drawing of the product online at http://www.arc-resources.org/budget.htm
Ergonomic & Specialty Pens

A variety of pens at a variety of price ranges are available from standard office supply stores. Specialized pens are also available from many sources online including www.activeforever.com. These pens can meet the needs of people who have arthritis, Parkinson’s, and other disabilities that affect their ability to write. There are also pens for people who have low vision.

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