Category Archives: M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program
Last night, program leaders, volunteers, and teachers gathered in the Claflin Center to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program. The evening focused on celebrating the success of the Program, which has reached more than 4,000 students statewide with the help of over 425 volunteers since 2005. Attendees also gained a firsthand account of the impact of the program from 2013 Summer Jobs Student Ben Haideri, who has put his financial literacy into practice, opening a savings, checking and credit account since experiencing the Program.
Did you miss the event? Don’t worry, here’s a look at the evening:
Stay tuned for more on the event.
This winter is flying by and we are already halfway through the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program in the Greater Boston area. BBA Week thought it would be a great idea to reach out to the volunteers who have already participated in the program to see what they enjoyed most about their experience. The response was overwhelming, which is why we couldn’t help sharing it with our readers. If you haven’t volunteered yet, see what you are missing out on here.
Are you interested in getting involved? It’s not too late to volunteer! Click here to view available sessions.
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.
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.
The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program kicks off on Monday with sessions at New Mission High School and Boston Community Leadership Academy. Even though the program is about to get started, the BBA is still looking for volunteers to help meet the demand. That’s why Beyond the Billable checked in with one of our Financial Literacy Co-Chairs, Janet Bostwick (Janet E. Bostwick, PC); to hear the four best reasons you should volunteer for the program. Here’s what she had to say:
(1) Because you don’t know the fun you are missing. I have received numerous calls from volunteers after teaching their first class, who tell me they can’t wait to sign up again. Volunteers enjoy going to the classroom and interacting with the students, while teaching them about budgeting, credit cards or buying a car.
(2) Because as little as five hours of your time will make a big difference in the lives of the students. From start to finish (training, preparing, travel, and class), the time commitment is typically five hours or less. Helping the students learn the basics about personal finance and credit will provide them with skills they will use for the rest of their lives.
(3) Because you wish someone had told you about credit and personal finance when you were their age. Maybe it was your first paycheck (when you saw how little you took home). Maybe it was that first car you bought (when the salesman talked you into a pricier model.) Or, maybe it was juggling that first credit card and the minimum payments. We all had to sort through personal finance and credit issues at some point in our life, but often on our own. You can help provide these students with the information now, and prepare them for those crossroads.
(4) Because you will be an ambassador for your profession. This spring we are in 15 schools in Boston, Greater Boston, and Worcester. Some of our students had little prior contact (or positive contact) with attorneys and the legal profession. Your presence and involvement will help them have a better understanding about our profession. (And, maybe you will be the spark for one of them to consider becoming a lawyer in the future.)
Are you convinced? Click here to sign up for an open volunteer session.
Volunteers braved the pouring rain on Tuesday night to attend the annual M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program Training. Judge Joan Feeney (U.S. Bankruptcy Court and Jeanne Darcey (Sullivan & Worcester LLP) joined ), Janet Bostwick to walk the packed room through the volunteer materials and discussed tips for engaging high school students. As you may have heard from this article, 15 schools have signed up for the program, which means one thing—we need lots of volunteers.
Are you interested in volunteering? Click here to view the available sessions.
Is your New Year’s resolution to get more involved in the community this year? Beyond the Billable is here to help. Take a look at this list of upcoming public service trainings and events during the month of January to get you started:
Representing Clients Pursuing Unemployment Benefits
Thursday, January 9, 2014 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
The BBA is partnering with the Volunteer Lawyers Project and Greater Boston Legal Services to train attorneys of all experience levels to provide pro bono representation to clients who are pursuing unemployment benefits.
Public Interest Leadership Program Information Session
Monday, January 13, 2014 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Are you an up-and-coming leader in the legal community or in the BBA? Interested in connecting with other civically engaged lawyer leaders? Come learn more about the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program and how to apply.
M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program Training Session
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM
If you are looking for an opportunity to work with students, don’t miss the upcoming M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Training. After completing this training, volunteers go into high schools and educate students about the importance of making smart financial decisions. Each class is designed to last approximately one hour and you can sign up for a time and location that works best for you.
Limited Assistance Representation Training and Breakout Sessions
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Come to the annual LAR certification training to learn the basics of going into court for a single event in a case. After the main training, you can choose to attend a breakout session on LAR in the Boston Municipal Court or the Housing Court. Are you already certified? Just sign up for one of the breakout sessions.
The BBA has had a quite a year of public service. For a look back at our members’ commitment to the community, take a look at the photos below:
In January 2013, the John & Abigail Adams Benefit raised over $560,000. That amount helped to fund grants to 24 Massachusetts community organizations providing legal services in areas such as immigration, domestic violence and homelessness.
The BBA held two free Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) trainings during the winter to certify nearly 100 lawyers to accept cases for limited representation. LAR provides an opportunity for attorneys to gain valuable courtroom experience, and most importantly, more people with unresolved legal issues that require representation receive the help they need. Attorneys received certification in the Probate and Family Court, Land Court, Housing Court, and Boston Municipal Court.
In 2013, the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program more than doubled in size, reaching nearly 1,300 students across Massachusetts with the help of 158 volunteers.
Lisa Menelly (Raytheon Company) traveled to Mozart Elementary School in Roslindale to teach Ms. Pearl-Haynes’s 4th grade class about the 2013 Law Day in the Schools theme “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.” From May 1st-3rd, 41 volunteer attorneys traveled to seven Boston public schools to teach 782 students about the topic.
Members of the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) leveraged the resources of the bar to launch the Community Reentry Readiness Program through the Federal Court to provide information to federal probationers on key civil-legal issues that they will face when re-entering society.
After the tragic events on Marathon Monday, the BBA offered pro bono legal assistance to small business and victims affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. The BBA recruited over 200 attorneys, firms, and law schools who were eager to help. The BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service received 70 calls and through collaboration with the Mayor’s Office and Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance, the BBA volunteer attorneys assisted 63 small business owners and victims with legal matters in the wake of the Boston Marathon events. In addition, the BBF demonstrated its commitment to Boston by donating $25,000 to the One Fund to further assist victims.
On June 6th, members of the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) hosted a groundbreaking symposium addressing the emerging legal and community-based issues associated with human trafficking. The event drew in over 125 attendees and national press coverage.
This year, 32 diverse law students participated in the Diversity & Inclusion Section’s Judicial Internship Program which places students in local courts including the Boston Municipal Court, Probate & Family Courts and US Bankruptcy Court.
In its 20th year, the BBA Summer Jobs Program placed a record-breaking 58 Boston public high school students in paid positions at Boston law firms, legal departments, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. This year, the BBF increased its commitment to the program by funding paid positions for 13 students at non-profit community organizations, government offices and courts.
Pro Bono Month, which happens every October, was jam-packed with trainings and volunteer opportunities to encourage attorneys to give back to our community. The BBA held five pro bono trainings that prepared 206 attorneys and law students to engage in pro bono work and connected 250 new attorneys and law students with 28 Boston-area legal service agencies through a Pro Bono Fair.
On September 1, 2013, the BBA Lawyer Referral Service became the new home of the Military Legal Help Line, which was established to connect veterans, military personnel, and their families with lawyers and other legal resources appropriate to their needs. The service refers callers to qualified attorneys offering reduced fee and pro bono legal assistance or the appropriate government or non-profit agency. In an effort to prepare attorneys to help with these reduced fee and pro bono cases, the BBA held a four-part CLE series this fall on topics including, family law, labor and employment, Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, trusts and estates, and education benefits.
On November 20th, BBA President Paul T. Dacier joined over 150 of Boston’s leaders in visiting Boston Public Schools (BPS) to gain a firsthand look at the successes and challenges of the city’s school system as part of the BPS Principal for a Day Program. Paul shadowed William Thomas, the headmaster of Charlestown High School, for the morning. Charlestown High School is one of the largest high schools in Boston with 954, 39% of its student body is Limited English Proficient, and 46% of students qualify for free or reduced-priced school meals.
The BBA President Paul Dacier and BBA Executive Director Rich Page joined Mayor Thomas Menino along with the current representatives and alumni of the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC) at the 20th Anniversary Celebration on November 29th. As you may know, the BBA is a longstanding partner of the MYC, combining efforts with the City of Boston and Northeastern University.
Last Thursday, the BBA joined educators, financial advisors, government employees, and other nonprofit staff to discuss the status of financial literacy among high schoolers throughout the state at the Massachusetts Jump$tart! Coalition Financial Literacy Roundtable Discussion. The program taught us some important information about the state of Financial Literacy in Massachusetts and some interesting things about our own program.
Here’s what we took away:
1) Massachusetts has no mandate. Unlike other states, Massachusetts does not mandate that students learn any financial literacy before graduating from high school. The lack of a requirement, coupled with limited school resources and jam-packed curriculums, acts as a key impediment to integrating financial literacy into high school curriculum.
2) The BBA’s program meets a need. The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program helps fill the gap in financial education while working around these constraints. As you may remember, 1,300 high school students throughout the state learned how to make sound financial decisions with the help of over 150 volunteer attorneys last year.
3) Our program makes it easy. Because each module is only an hour long, the program does not interfere with lesson plans or MCAS preparations. Our volunteers relieve the burden on the teacher to learn and create new financial literacy lesson plans, plus they offer a truly unique legal perspective on the consequences of poor financial decision making.
4) We can do more. Other roundtable participants highlighted the importance of integrating interactive technology into financial literacy curriculum and closely monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of financial literacy programs. Over the next year we will be evaluating our program and looking for opportunities to strengthen it.
At the last session of the BBA’s Financial Literacy Program, the Summer Jobs students received firsthand lessons about the consequences of poor financial decision-making directly from the source — the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. With the help of Judge Joan Feeney and a number of volunteer bankruptcy attorneys, the students witnessed a mock Meeting of Creditors and mock Chapter 13 hearing. The session finished with a brief presentation by Beatriz Mejia, a BBF-funded students who interned at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court this summer. She outlined the different chapters of bankruptcy and reiterated the importance of saving and planning your finances for college, especially because students loans are nondischargeable in bankruptcy.
Here’s a look at the morning:
As you’ve heard in past posts, one of the benefits of the BBA’s Summer Jobs Program is their weekly enrichment programs, including modules of the BBA’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program on important issues like buying a car and learning the consequences of poor financial decisions. Due to the popularity of the BBA program, however, summer jobs students at the Judge David S. Nelson Fellowship Program of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and Boston Private Industry Council students working at Tufts Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have all benefited from lessons on the importance of making informed decisions regarding their finances
The BBA and its group of volunteers were thrilled to offer this program to more youth in Massachusetts.