Champaign hosts Money Smart Week to provide advice to students, citizens

By Andy Kwalwaser

It’s not the Pygmalion Festival, and there might not be dozens of rock bands, but a new week-long event will kick off in Champaign on Friday.

Money Smart Week, a financial education initiative sponsored by the Federal Reserve and National City Bank, will begin at 8:15 a.m. at the Champaign Public Library.

This is the first year the event will be held in Champaign County.

Throughout the week, more than 40 community groups will offer activities pertaining to personal finance, from debt strategy classes to a video contest.

“We asked people in the community that were already doing programs to bring them together in the week,” said Laurie Peterson, regional volunteer chair for National City Bank’s Money Smart Week activities.

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Peterson said she hopes this event will raise community awareness of available financial resources.

Kerri Spear, Champaign neighborhood programs manager, said she hopes a variety of topics will draw a diverse body of people from the community.

“We’re hoping people of all income groups and ages will come out,” Spear said.

Peoria hosted Money Smart Week events last year, which spurred interest in bringing the event to Champaign, said Cindy Ivanac-Lillig, economic outreach specialist for the Federal Reserve in Chicago.

University involvement will be critical for the success of the week, she added.

“The University is an integral part of the community as an employer,” Ivanac-Lillig said. “So many people (in Champaign-Urbana) depend on the University.”

Community members need the confidence to ask necessary financial questions, said Steve Sonka, interim vice chancellor for public engagement.

“There’s a wide variance among college students,” Sonka said. “There are some students who are very financially oriented. There are some students for whom this is a mystery.”

Sonka said the University will not keep any financial data collected as part of the week’s activities.

Peterson said Champaign-Urbana’s large college-age population would benefit from financial education, including strategies for dealing with debt.

“We can’t change the world but maybe there are students who will take one of the classes, and when they graduate they won’t be so burdened with debt,” Peterson said.

Money smarts hit campus

n Monday at Florida Avenue Residence Halls starting at 4:30 p.m.

n Tuesday at Daniels Hall at 4:30 p.m.

n Wednesday at Snyder Hall at 4:30 p.m.

n Thursday at Forbes Hall at 4:30 p.m.

n Friday at the Illini Union at 11:30 a.m.

OFFICE OF THE VICE CHANCELLOR FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT