Soft opening on Oct. 31 invites community, supporters to learn about center programs, meet staff
By Abbey Goers, UW-Stout
Menomonie, Wis. – A center at University of Wisconsin-Stout will help equip and empower students with financial knowledge to create a successful and sustainable future for themselves.
The newly opened Financial Wellness and Literacy Center on campus works with students on various financial topics, focusing on paying for college, budgeting, scholarships and financial aid resources with real-life perspectives from volunteer mentors, financial professionals and industry experts. Also, hands-on learning experiences will show students they can improve the conditions of their lives.
The center’s programs are available to all students at no cost. It is part of UW-Stout’s STRONG program, Strategic Technology, Retention and Organizational Networks and Guidance, which seeks to holistically support students beyond the classroom to enhance their academic success.
STRONG was recently awarded a $2.5 million Title III grant over five years from the U.S. Department of Education to help the university expand its ability to serve students, especially low-income, first-generation and transfer.
The center, located on the lower level of Harvey Hall room 74E, will have a soft opening from 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31, in the outdoor courtyard between Bowman Hall and Harvey Hall. The Halloween event will include coffee, hot chocolate, candy bars and face painting. The lower level of Harvey Hall will serve as a rain site.
Financial Wellness Coach with Student Support Services Mandy Stasiek is serving as interim program manager for the center and has worked with Cheryl Schmidt, the university’s bursar, to ready the center for opening. Four peer financial coaches have been hired, including Curtis Eng, an applied mathematics and computer science student from Elwood.
“A Financial Literacy Center at UW-Stout will ensure that students are better prepared to manage their finances, make informed decisions and build a strong foundation for their financial future,” Eng said.
Stasiek has already met with numerous students to talk about plans to pay for college, budgeting, scholarship searches, food plan management, and free campus and community resources as well as doing presentations during special events.
“The Financial Wellness and Literacy Center is a comprehensive and accessible resource intended to promote financial literacy and well-being among UW-Stout students. By providing one-on-one meetings, workshops and online resources, we will work to coach and empower students to achieve long-term financial success,” Stasiek said.
The center will deliver in-person, online and hybrid resources to provide students with:
Peer-to-peer financial education provides access to high-quality, relevant financial education programs and workshops that cover a variety of financial topics.
Personalized guidance offers one-on-one financial counseling sessions that allow tailored interventions.
Resource Hub and workshops offer online and printed materials, personal finance software, tools, calculators and resources to support financial literacy.
Scholarship and aid assistance helps students navigate scholarship resources and how to prepare their scholarship materials.
Career planning, integrated with financial literacy, helps students make informed decisions about their future professions and earning potential.
Collaborative partnerships with financial institutions, UW-Stout departments, alumni and industry experts provide real-world insights and opportunities for students.
“Both Student Affairs and academic campus advocates have been working toward this new service for more than seven years. Now it has officially emerged from recent Strategic Enrollment Planning Committee work,” Stasiek said.
The center plans to expand its resources to give students the skills to make informed decisions about applying for FAFSA, study abroad, careers and negotiations, cooking on a budget, savvy consumerism, building credit, saving, tax preparation, leases, campus and community resources, food plan management, investments and overall financial wellness, she added.
A grand opening will be held in April, which is Financial Wellness and Literacy Month.
Center supported through state, county grants
Along with support from the Title III grant, UW-Stout is also partnering with Junior Achievement of NW Wisconsin, which received a $3,500 grant from the Community Foundation of Dunn County to support the center.
Junior Achievement will provide the center with expertise, curriculum and implementation support, providing a special curriculum for college students.
“As students graduate from UW-Stout and join the workforce, it will be more important than ever for them to understand how to manage debt, spend wisely and become self-sufficient adults. Our new learning experiences, designed for 18- to 25-year-olds, will be a key component of our partnership with the new Financial Literacy and Wellness Center,” said JA Regional Director Susan Peterson.
This partnership is part of JA’s regional three- to five-year initiative to help close the economic gap by providing innovative solutions for its education partners and to prepare students to make smart educational and financial decisions.