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Center receives new grant

Eva Binda | Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Key Bank Foundation recently awarded a $20,000 grant to the Robinson Community Learning Center – a substantial gift that the center’s director said will help its staff teach young people to make good financial decisions.

The grant will go toward the Robinson Center’s Youth Financial Literacy Training Program, which provides “young people in middle and high schools with the tools to think about their own financial success,” center director Jay Caponigro said Monday. The Robinson Center, which uses volunteers from Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, has been teaching students about financial literacy for the past four years, he said.

Approximately 60 students from the South Bend area will participate in the program, which teaches young people simple skills like managing a checking account and more advanced concepts like investments and returns. The program also instructs students how to use credit cards and manage debt.

“We certainly hope that children understand the value of money,” Caponigro said. “We hope that, as they leave the program, they’re making choices about how to spend their money that are based on how to make money work for them instead of being on the other end of working to make money.”

The goal of the program is to help students obtain the skills they will eventually need when they open their own checking accounts, manage a budget and make financial plans, he said.

This grant will be used for instruction purposes and will provide incentives for students to finish the program. Students who stick with the program will proceed to the next level of financial education, the entrepreneurship program, Caponigro said. Some students who are in this program get the chance to go to the National Conference for Teaching Entrepreneurship to get a firsthand look at finance.

“We send up to five students to Wall Street to really understand the world of finance,” Caponigro said. “This grant will help with that.”

Key Bank awards grants to programs that encourage financial literacy, Caponigro said. He also credited the Gigot Center in the Mendoza School of Business as a “great partner” in providing financial literacy education.

The Robinson Community Learning Center was founded in 2001. Located on North Eddy Street, it coordinates the Youth Justice Project, the violence prevention program Take Ten and adult job-training courses. Since its founding, more than 3,700 participants and 2,000 volunteers have been involved with the Center.