CNT and North Side Community Federal Credit Union Train Financial Counselors on the Link between Living Green and Saving Green

CHICAGO (March 17, 2011)—The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) and the North Side Community Federal Credit Union recently sponsored a two-day “train the trainer” program for financial counselors to reduce their clients’ household expenses and environmental impact. The program, Equity Express, illustrates that economic and environmental sustainability go hand in hand.

“Despite the popular belief that living ‘green’ is only possible for upper-income households, CNT has consistently found in its research and programs that sustainable practices significantly decrease household expenditures on utility bills, transportation costs, and telecommunications services, to name a few,” said Steve Perkins, senior vice president at CNT. “Households can use sustainable practices to help them save towards goals like homeownership and higher education, while also reducing their environmental impacts. Equity Express shows them how.”

The 13 representatives from nine financial education and homeowner counseling organizations that attended the training can now use Equity Express to show their clients—often low- and moderate-income individuals—how making smart decisions about money has positive impacts for them and the earth. Previous Equity Express Workshop participants in the San Francisco Bay Area have decreased expenses from $20 to $200 per month.

“Our mission at the North Side Community Federal Credit Union is to provide affordable, alternative financial products and services to the community,” said Kristen Cox, Marketing and Community Relations Manager at the North Side Community Federal Credit Union. “We believe Equity Express will add depth to our financial literacy curriculum by providing a participatory and supportive, ongoing six-week class environment in which members learn from each other what best behavioral strategies really work.

Participants were enthusiastic about the training, many finding ways to reduce their own expenses, as well as finding material for their clients. Most reported that they planned on incorporating the curriculum and offering workshops within the next six months.

“It was really life transforming in a lot of respects. I’ve started paying attention to setting financial goals and waste,” said Patricia Abrams, Executive Director at The Renaissance Collaborative, who attended the workshop. “It will help us educate our clients to see a direct link between what they’re doing, how they’re being or not being, and how that impacts what’s possible.”

In attendance were representatives from: Claretian Associates, Chicago Commons, Enlace Chicago, Humboldt Park Social Services, Instituto Del Progreso Latino, Jane Addams Resource Corporation, Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, North Side Community Federal Credit Union, and the Renaissance Collaborative.

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Founded in 1978, CNT is a Chicago-based think-and-do tank that works nationally to advance urban sustainability by researching, inventing and testing strategies that use resources more efficiently and equitably. Its programs focus on climate, energy, natural resources, transportation, and community development. Visit www.cnt.org for more information.

North Side Community FCU is a 36-year old, member-owned, cooperative, certified community development credit union and HUD-certified housing counseling agency located in Uptown. The credit union serves 3,200 members, partners with 50 Select Employee Group and community groups, holds more than $10.5 million in assets and has a low-income service designation from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). www.northsidecommunityfcu.org