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january 26 2009 media release

Vancity funding helps low-income earners gain skills to weather challenging economic conditions

Renewed partnership with Family Services of Greater Vancouver expands delivery of financial literacy workshops

Vancouver, B.C., January 26, 2009 The current economic climate and outlook means that families struggling to make ends meet will face increased pressures when managing their finances.

Thanks to a partnership between Family Services of Greater Vancouver and Vancity credit union, low income families and individuals will now have even wider access to a range of programs offering a ‘back to basics’ approach to money management through the expansion of ‘Money Skills: The Financial Literacy Program’.

Family Services of Greater Vancouver recently received a major boost to the program with a renewed, three-year financial commitment from Vancity amounting to $150,000 annually. The commitment, which follows a previous three-year partnership, means the program will be able to increase the number of workshops offered throughout Metro Vancouver, branch out to Victoria, and ultimately, serve almost 50 per cent more people.

The Vancity funding will also allow for further development of the newly added curriculum for refugees and new immigrants as well as youth-oriented workshops.

'Money Skills: The Financial Literacy Program' is unique because its target demographic are those living on low incomes. The program is designed to help participants increase their knowledge and confidence in the tasks of daily money management. Vancity’s financial commitment enables Family Services of Greater Vancouver to continue supporting the economic participation and self-sufficiency of those struggling with the financial side of day-to-day life.

"Building economic self-reliance and resilience will allow many of those most susceptible to an economic downturn to better weather the storm, protect themselves and their families, and participate more fully in community life." says Tamara Vrooman, CEO of Vancity. "For more than 60 years we have been there for our members and the community, in good times and in bad and we’re pleased to expand our partnership with Family Services of Greater Vancouver so that more people will have access to financial education."

"Supporting the development of practical money skills is more critical than ever during times like these," adds Program Manager, Tulia Castellanos. "Most of our participants are people working for low wages or at part-time jobs. This makes them vulnerable during difficult times. Together with Vancity we can help people to build their skills and access information so they can effectively manage their money and plan for their future."

Robert, a program participant from Vancouver, was a prime candidate for Money Skills training. For years, he had difficulty managing money and by month’s end, he struggled to pay his bills. Through the workshop, he developed a better understanding of how to manage his finances within the context of his daily life. Remarks Robert: "Things like obtaining a credit history, using a budget planner – all of this helped immensely." Other attendees agree: "I expected it to be judgmental. Instead, I found it to be positive and empowering," says Paul. Joseline, a single mother of twins, adds, "The program helped me manage my weekly bills and showed me how to save money on my food-spending."

With the support of close to 100 community-based programs and organizations, the Money Skills workshops are offered in community centres and neighbourhood houses, as well as via existing service providers to enhance ongoing programs.

About Vancouver City Savings Credit Union

Vancity is Canada's largest credit union, with $14.1 billion in assets, 400,000 members, and 61 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet. Both Vancity and Citizens Bank are guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility and to improving the quality of life in the communities where we live and work.

About Family Services of Greater Vancouver

Since 1928, Family Services of Greater Vancouver has operated as a community-based, not-for-profit organization providing crucial social services to children, youth, adults, and families in Metro Vancouver. Services range from prevention to intervention. The agency provides: Abuse prevention & trauma treatment; addictions treatment; adoption services; community education & development; counseling; employee assistance; employment services; immigrant services; intensive family & parenting services; support for youth with special needs; victim support; and services for homeless youth and those living in at-risk situations.

For further information, please contact:

Leah Zille, Communication Manager
Family Services of Greater Vancouver or 604-731-4951 (ext. 47) (office)/604-808-3809 (cell)

Jane MacCarthy
Vancity Media Relations (office)/ 778-837-0394 (cell)

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