Financial insecurity and inequality is at an all-time high, especially in Massachusetts. As a recognized leader on the issues of consumer financial protection and asset building, Midas promotes advocacy and research at the state and federal level to address the systemic issues that lead to financial insecurity. Through Midas’ direct service work and from our member collaborative of 25+ community organizations, we’ve seen a rise of instability in debt collections and employment for lower wage and entry level workers. This instability is exacerbated by the lack of quality financial education at the K-12 level, leaving young adults unable to make sound financial decisions. The impact of these three issues are reviewed in briefs produced by Midas in support of legislation that invests and empowers Massachusetts families.
- Calling or Emailing your State Representative for their support in pushing passage through the House
- Joining the MassSaves Advocacy Committee
- Building Support in Your Community! Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Amplify our efforts on social media by "sharing" and "retweeting" our posts.
On February 6, 2018, Prosperity Now released the 2018 Scorecard Whose Bad Choices? How Policy Precludes Prosperity and What We Can Do About It. Despite an unemployment rate that has ticked downward and an overall improved economy, large numbers of Massachusetts families continue to struggle to save for a more prosperous future. 30.4% of Massachusetts households still remain liquid asset poor, meaning they have so little savings that they could not live at the poverty level for just three months if they lose a job or suffer another significant income loss. A new measure also shows that while 42.8% of households in the state did not set aside any savings for emergencies in the past year, that number is lower than the national rate of 43.7%. The data highlights the need for continued efforts in building awareness and support to advance the financial security of Massachusetts families. Learn more about how Massachusetts fared here.
Register Today! The MassSaves 10th Annual Financial Health and Wellness Summit will be held on Friday, April 27, 2018 at Framingham State University in Framingham, MA. The Summit is an opportunity for providers, teachers, financial educators, and supporters from all backgrounds to network, share, and learn. The 10th annual Summit builds on our efforts to elevate the field by empowering and equipping us with the latest tools, resources, and knowledge.
Recently two states have passed personal finance legislation: Arkansas and Wisconsin.
In Arkansas, lawmakers approved the Personal Finance and Job Readiness Act this year. It mandates that students receive instruction on a range of standards related to financial literacy. The law doesn't require schools to specially offer a personal finance course. It instead directs the Arkansas Department of Education to develop personal and family finance standards that can be incorporated into existing courses. Legislators noted “too many students leave school unaware of financial issues they're bound to encounter in the real world." The standards will be presented to the Board of Education for approval next month. The law will take effect with the class of 2021.
In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 280 into law which will direct each school board to adopt academic standards for financial literacy and incorporate instruction in financial literacy into the curriculum in grades kindergarten to 12. Legislators said, “we want to pull out all the stops to help raise the financial acumen for everybody in Wisconsin." The Wisconsin Bankers Association said, “Financial education is an important aspect of every person’s life. It’s more than simply knowing how to save for retirement or balance a checkbook. It’s learning about how to make sound choices that will help people become financially empowered in every corner of the state. If a person is lacking the basics of financial literacy, they are open to being taken advantage of and being susceptible to a financially unstable future”
What's next for Massachusetts? The Senate conducted a listening tour of millennials to better understand their issues which resulted in the Millennial Engagement Initiative report. Amongst its recommendations for transportation, housing and student debt there was a recommendation regarding k-12 education.
“Throughout our tour, we consistently heard that millennials did not feel as though they have a grasp on how to obtain and manage their own health insurance, retirement savings, credit cards, debt and taxes. As fewer employers provide benefit packages inclusive of these products the need for young people to not only understand but navigate the financial sector of our economy is increasingly important. We recommend financial literacy education be incorporated into public school curriculum from kindergarten to twelfth grade.”
MassSaves advocates plan to build upon their momentum from their October 11th "Day on the Hill" to ensure passage of legislation in 2018 that equips Massachusetts students with the tools to build financially responsible lives.
Over 1,700 students served through the Invest in College Success (ICS) pilot across three Massachusetts community colleges!
ICS was a pilot intervention, launched by The Midas Collaborative in fall 2014, designed to help students navigate college affordability and build financial capabilities. The structure of ICS allowed students to receive multiple services through a partnership model. Midas provided leadership and support for financial education, financial coaching, and an educational matched savings program, uAspire delivered text message–based and in-person advising on college affordability, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (The Fed) evaluated the pilot. Three Massachusetts community college partners, Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC), Northern Essex Community College (NECC) and Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), were active partners in the marketing of and delivery of financial education and the educational matched savings program. The two-year pilot was supported by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Empowerment Innovation Fund and additional funders.
The 2017 final evaluation examined uptake and outcomes of the supports provided to community college students during the pilot period. Additionally, there are applicable findings and lessons for future community college programs offering similar services. Learn more about the outcomes and learnings from the final evaluation report by Sarah Savage of the Fed and Midas' summary.
Over 50 MassSaves advocates descended upon the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday, October 11th in support of incorporating financial education into existing curriculum. 20 states require students to take a high school economics course to graduate and 17 states require a course in financial literacy yet Massachusetts continues to lag behind. The lack of access to quality financial education at every stage of life has left Massachusetts families feeling unprepared for basic financial decisions. MassSaves highlighted the need and growing bi-partisan support for legislation (S.249, H.261) that acknowledges that every student in Massachusetts should have access to financial tools to build financially responsible lives.
Didn't make it to the event and want to share your support?
- Call your state representative and senator today
- Check out the State House News article (syndicated in multiple outlets), Wicked Local Marblehead, The Republican, and Sentinel & Enterprise coverage of the event
- Join MassSaves' "Day On the Hill" planning committee
- Share within your network - ask a colleague, friend or neighbor to show their support. Materials from the event (presentation and info sheet) can help spread the message.
As a network of teachers, school administrators, community practitioners, financial institutions and supporters we know we need to change this - starting with our youth - for a stronger Massachusetts. By incorporating financial literacy in K-12 education, children will be introduced to financial concepts earlier in life, and the dissemination of financial knowledge will be more widespread, thus having a greater impact.
Thanks for helping us create more prosperous communities across Massachusetts.
"State caps on loan rates make Massachusetts an unattractive market for payday lenders, but the new rule will help protect locals from out-of-state loan products," said Ginger Haggerty, Midas' asset development and policy coordinator.
Collaborating for More Prosperous Communities
On October 4, 2017, Midas' annual Assets & Opportunity Reception highlighted our commitment to advancing the financial security of Massachusetts families. The evening was an opportunity to pause and celebrate the amazing work of our collaborative this year, honor our deserving champion, Boston Medical Center, and re-commit ourselves to building upon our successes in 2018. Heather C., a financial coaching & confidence program graduate, shared how working with a Midas financial coach changed her financial future during a difficult time in her life.
Like so many families have faced, barriers to quality financial education at every stage of life, widening inequality, rising costs and much more are making it harder for them to feel secure and prosper. Many individuals including recent immigrants, artists and high school students entrust Midas and our member organizations with creating a pathway to a better tomorrow. Together with our members and partners we create a powerful network. Our programs and services are tested and proven strategies that yield stronger individuals, families and communities. However, there is still much work to do, and it takes every one of us from wherever we are to share, collaborate and build a stronger future together.
Thank You To Our Generous Sponsors:
Cambridge Savings Bank
East Boston Savings Bank
Center for Responsible Lending
United Way Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley
If you are interested in helping Midas to expand our reach with a monetary donation, please check out our donation page.
Thank you for helping us to create more prosperous communities across Massachusetts.
On Monday, September 25th, Midas' Ginger Haggerty testified in front of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Financial Services in support of the Debt Collections Fairness Act. With nearly 25% of Massachusetts residents having one or more debts in collection, owing an average of $4602 per debt, it reinforces the need for a just and transparent system. Far too many Massachusetts families face a spiraling debt trap when attempting repayment, with snowballing fees, the threat of arrest, and more. Read our testimony here and coverage of the hearing here.