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COLUMBUS, Ohio – With an emphasis on better serving the Hispanic community, Ohio credit unions have kicked off a Latino Financial Literacy Program. For the second year, OhioHealth CU, Telhio CU Inc., and Western CU Inc., have joined with the Ohio Credit Union Foundation to sponsor the financial literacy program, which is free and open to the public. “Credit unions know that education will make life better for these new residents,” said Sue Helmreich, manager of outreach programs for the Ohio Credit Union League. “Participants in the financial literacy classes come from many countries. Some cannot speak English, some can’t read or write any language, but the common bond is that they want to learn how to handle money in this country where they have come to make a better life for themselves and their families.” The credit unions publicize, host the classes and cover expenses for learning materials and the instructor. Dr. Ruben Nieto, a native of Venezuela and an associate of The Ohio State University Extension Office, developed the class curriculum, which covers budgeting, financial goals/priorities, establishing/maintaining good credit, and financial products/services. In what has been a real community event, several Central Ohio churches and community organizations have also offered their facilities for the classes to meet. Program participants must complete all four parts of the class series to graduate. Helmreich says the program has been a success, and last year over 53% of the students graduated. The majority of class participants are natives of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Spanish financial literacy classes are scheduled for the first half of 2003 and plans are underway to not only extend the program into 2004 but also expand it across the state.

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