Online Financial Educator Program: Building Capacity and Meeting the Needs of Limited Income Families

  • Lori A Hendrickson University of Minnesota Extension
  • Dung Mao University of Minnesota Extension
  • Mary Jo Katras University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Keywords: financial education, online learning, cohort model, professional development, frontline workers


The Financial Educator Certificate program (FEC), a 9-month, 10-module online course delivered in Moodle to community professionals. The course is aimed at building the capacity of staff in community-based organizations to more effectively work with clients from diverse backgrounds to manage their financial resources, build assets, and improve financial well-being.

In order to create an effective learning environment, the content of the course must reflect the changing needs that participants are seeing in the communities they serve. To address these changing needs, participants are asked to compile a case study to represent individuals and families that they typically encounter in their work. The case study assignment was designed to allow learners to reflect on their financial education/coaching work with families and to demonstrate their learning by applying financial concepts and tools to a family situation. The teaching team has analyzed these case studies to understand the realities of low-income families who seek support to manage their finances. This workshop will discuss the case study activity, analysis of the case studies to more fully understand the critical information needs of FEC students and their clients, as well as how the team has adapted the program to improve relevancy and develop more effective community-based financial education programs.

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Author Biography

Lori A Hendrickson, University of Minnesota Extension

Lori Hendrickson has worked as an Extension educator since 1988. She is an Accredited Financial Counselor by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education; Certified in Family and Consumer Sciences (CFCS) by the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences. Lori holds a M.Ed. and B.A.S in Home Economics Education, both from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.