Expo offers information on money, housing, educationArea colleges and nonprofits are inviting everyone in the Duluth-Superior community back to class Saturday for a wide choice of lessons on finances, housing and higher education.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
Area colleges and nonprofits are inviting everyone in the Duluth-Superior community back to class Saturday for a wide choice of lessons on finances, housing and higher education.
Empower: a Financial Fitness, College Education and Housing Expo will be at Lake Superior College.
The free event is designed as a one-stop shop for specialized information aimed at giving people a boost to their next stage in life. It is sponsored by Community Action Duluth, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Duluth, the College of St. Scholastica, the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Lake Superior College, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, One Roof Community Housing and the city of Duluth.
“How people enter college is changing rapidly,” said Lynn Black, chancellor of UMD. “The numbers of people in high school are dwindling. We are thinking of ways we can serve people who never went to college or people who want to come back.”
Getting all educational institutions in one place allows people to shop around and find the information that best suits them. For example, Black said, higher education representatives from one college might send participants to representatives of another institution where their interests will be better served.
“We’re not out for ourselves here,” he said. “We’re out for raising the overall health of the area. We are reaching across systems. … We are interested in the public good and benefit.”
St. Scholastica President Larry Goodwin agreed.
Area colleges and universities do compete for students, he said, but that’s not the case here.
“I think everybody wins in this deal,” he said. “It’s a public service.”
One-hour classes and 15-minute, one-on-one appointments will be held throughout the day.
People can sign up to learn about budgeting and savings, boosting credit, reducing debt, foreclosures, renting and other housing issues, financial aid, choosing colleges and transferring credits. Appointments can be made with certified financial planners, credit and housing counselors and flood-relief specialists.
The event isn’t just for college students, said Sarah Priest, director of asset development and financial services for Community Action Duluth, one of the agencies that, along with Lutheran Social Service, was planning its own conference before joining with the area colleges and universities.
“We partnered with colleges because that’s the way up and out for a lot of people,” Priest said. “Who we’re targeting is everyday people, people who are struggling or hoping for something different, people who think buying a house is out of reach. It’s meant to be a safe place and a starting point for conversations.”
Jackie Kemp of One Roof Community Housing said her organization will be able to reach a broader audience than it normally would with its housing education and credit counseling.
“Particularly for college students, this type of information is incredibly helpful,” she said. “In college you are making a lot of decisions that have the potential to impact your financial situation and health for quite some time. As much information as folks can have up front in making wise decisions, the better.”
Grouping information on higher education, financial planning and housing is key for that age group, Kemp said.
“Sometimes we’re meeting with folks where … they made those maybe risky decisions regarding credit cards or loans and they find themselves five to 10 years later trying to repair those mistakes in order to try and buy a home,” she said. “Knowledge is definitely power.”
Goodwin said it’s hard for people needing help with such questions to know where to get started.
“A lot of people need answers to a lot of questions,” he said, and the one-stop set-up “makes it a little less threatening.”
If you go
Empower — a housing expo on financial fitness, college education and housing — is from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Lake Superior College’s E Building, 2101 Trinity Road. The free event includes breakfast and child care.
Participants can take part in classes for help with budgeting and savings, credit, debt, taxes and estate planning, buying a house, foreclosure, home ownership, tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities, financial aid, transferring college credits and choosing colleges. Fifteen-minute one-on-one sessions are available for scheduling with certified financial planners, credit and housing counselors, financial aid representatives and flood-relief specialists.
Free living will and power of attorney forms are available.