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Financial literacy course helps East St. Louis parents build needed skills

jjkfinancialliteracyA financial literacy course aimed at teaching East St. Louis parents how to manage their finances and get out of debt has a new set of graduates this week.

The 10-week course was made possible through a collaboration between the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, Associated Bank and SIUE Head Start Program.

Nine parent-graduates graduated from the program Tuesday, May 21, at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center. Employees from Associated Bank taught the weekly classes, which included topics such as budget planning, credit awareness, debt resolution and managing a checking account. The free financial literacy course is offered to parents who have children enrolled in the SIUE Head Start program located at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center.

“This is a very rewarding program for us to be a part of,” said Associated Bank Vice President Tracy Sessions. “Since partnering with the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation three years ago, 31 parents have graduated from our financial literacy classes. Over that time, we’ve seen several parents go on to get approved for their first home loan or start their children’s college savings account. This year, we had one participant who was interested in starting her own business, so we brought in experts to help advise her. It’s been really fun for us to see how the program is making a difference.”

“Financial literacy is extremely important, and we want to provide these parents with the knowledge they need to make good financial decisions and feel confident about their choices,” said Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation Founder and CEO, Jackie Joyner-Kersee. “This partnership with Associated Bank is another way for us to empower children and families to win in life.”

Thanks to a collaboration between Associated Bank and private donors, each graduate of the program will receive $300 to start their own savings account, plus $700 to start a 529 savings plan for their children.

The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center’s mission is to instill youth in the Greater East St. Louis area with the dream, drive, and determination, necessary to succeed in academics, athletics and leadership. Children who attend the JJK Center learn Joyner-Kersee’s Winning in Life curriculum, which is based on her autobiographical book, “A Kind of Grace.”

For more information about the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, go to or call (618) 274-5437.

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