M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program Kicks Off in Roxbury


Amy Lipman-White (Law Office of Lipman & White) and Sarah Barr (Suffolk Law School) discussed the basics of personal finance and budgeting with a group of students at John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science.

Last week, volunteers headed out to 15 schools in the Greater Boston area to teach students about how to make sound financial decisions as part of the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. The BBA interviewed two volunteers, Amy Lipman-White (Law Office of Lipman & White) and Sarah Barr (Suffolk Law School) who taught Personal Finance and Budgeting to a group of very engaged students at John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science last week. Amy, a long-time volunteer who has been donating her time since the start of the program, and Sarah, a first-time volunteer, led the students through the basics of budgeting and the basics of taxes with the aid of a jolly rancher reward system. Here’s what they had to say about the experience:

Why did you volunteer for the program?
Amy: I believe this program can make a difference in a student’s life.   I feel that if I can reach just one student and that student benefits in the future from even just one idea, then I’ve made a difference.

Sarah: I am concentrating in Business Law and Financial Services at Suffolk Law School, so this seemed like a great opportunity to give back to the community in a way that corresponds to my career goals and personal values. I think that financial education should begin at a much earlier age than the college years, because this is the time when kids are first beginning to make financial decisions which can really impact their future, such as taking out student loans, applying for credit, paying bills, etc.


Sarah Barr (Suffolk Law School) discussed the difference between fixed and variable expenses with the students.

Why should other attorneys get involved?
Sarah: Other attorneys (and law students!) should get involved because this is a fantastic opportunity to give back to the Boston community, and provide high school students with some very practical skills in order to help them make educated financial decisions. This program empowers students by giving them the information they need in order to independently make good financial decisions.

What was the highlight of the session?
Sarah: This group of students was very engaged in the conversation, which gave us the opportunity to ask a lot of questions and get the students involved during the entire class. The students seemed to truly care about the issues we were talking about, and were proactive in connecting the information we provided with things that were going on in their everyday lives.

What information did the students seem to find most interesting and useful?
Amy: They were really interested in the W-4 and W-2’s and taxes.  However, this was a unique group of students. Most of them worked one or two jobs with significant hours and had already filled out the W-4 forms and had no idea why or what it was and they were just getting their W-2’s for the first time so they were interested in that topic because they didn’t know they might have to file taxes or that they could file a tax return and get money back or possibly have to pay.  The other topic they always find interesting is making out the budget, it is fun for the students.  They can use their imagination of what they want now and in the future, think about the reality of what things cost and then dream about what they will do to make it happen.

Are you interested in volunteering? Click here to view the available volunteer sessions.

This fall, volunteers delivered the program to students at three high schools in Western Massachusetts in collaboration with the Hampden County Bar Association and the Hampshire County Bar Association. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, a collaboration between the BBA and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts.

About BostonBar

The Boston Bar Association, which also goes by the acronym BBA, is a volunteer non-governmental organization in Boston, Massachusetts.

Posted on February 6, 2014, in M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, Public Service and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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