EAST ST. LOUIS — A recently completed financial literacy course in East St. Louis helped teach parents of children enrolled in the SIUE Jackie Joyner-Kersee Head Start Center how to manage their finances, and get out of debt faster.
The 10-week course was made possible through a collaboration between the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center, Associated Bank and SIUE Head Start Program.
Employees from Associated Bank taught the weekly classes, which included a variety of topics such as budget planning, credit awareness, debt resolution and managing a checking account.
Joyner-Kersee said that since starting this program in the spring she’s seen the positive impact it’s made.
This was the second group of graduates through the program.
“Financial literacy is extremely important, and we want to provide these parents with the knowledge they need to make good financial decisions. Our mission here at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation has always been to empower children and families to win in life. Part of that mission is also to empower them to succeed financially,” said Joyner-Kersee.
SIUE Center Coordinator Marcia Oliver said the parents were very open about their financial situations, and this program offered them individualized help.
“We all understand what a burden financial struggles can place on a family. This class is about teaching parents’ skills that they will be able to pass on to their children. We want them to learn how to manage their money and make smart financial choices. It also is meant to offer parents a little bit of support, and get them started on the right path towards financial freedom,” said Oliver.
Representatives from SIUE Head Start Program, Associated Bank and the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center presented $800 checks to the Financial Literacy Course graduates on Dec. 13 at the center.
Parents who made it through the entire 10-week class were told that they would be receiving a $50 savings bond to start their own savings account at Associated Bank. However, thanks to a collaboration between Associated Bank and private donors, each graduate of the program received $300 to start their own savings account, plus $500 to start a 529 savings plan for their children.
Joyner-Kersee said she is committed to ensuring that all children have access to high quality after-school programs, safe recreational places within their communities, and caring adults to help them achieve their dreams. Jackie launched the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation in Los Angeles and moved it to East St. Louis in 1995. Inspired by the closing of her neighborhood community center, she grew the foundation by raising over $12 million to expand programming and built a comprehensive youth and sports.
Musial Award winner
Joyner-Kersee recently received the Musial Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an iconic sports figure who is synonymous with sportsmanship and exemplifies the class, generosity, excellence, and integrity for which St. Louis Cardinals legend Stan Musial was known.
The East St. Louis native is the first woman to ever receive the award, and now joins the ranks of other renowned athletes, such as Joe Torre (2014), Arnold Palmer (2015) and Cal Ripken Jr. (2016) as recipients. Joyner-Kersee was chosen to receive the Musial Lifetime Achievement Award, not just for her athletic achievements, but also because of the impact she has made on the St. Louis region, in particular, the youth of East St. Louis.
“To me, that’s what makes this honor even more special,” said Joyner-Kersee. “I don’t do the work to be recognized, but when others see your efforts and want to applaud you for that work, it means a lot. Growing up, I had wonderful coaches who always stressed the importance of giving back, and that always stuck with me. As I continue my journey, I try to find time to talk to the young people, to share some of what I’ve learned and share the experiences I’ve had. I try to teach them that it doesn’t take much to share a little bit of your time, but it can really make a big difference in someone else’s life,” said Joyner-Kersee.