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Access Alliance has a long history of promoting income security and economic literacy as an important social determinant of health. Most recently, this work includes the following initiatives: Income Security Race and Health project; Job-Skills Mismatch among racialized immigrant women projects; Knowledge-To-Action Initiative; financial literacy orientations; income tax clinics and the Community Works initiative. The Sense2Dollars project brings together the knowledge and experience of these initiatives to promote financial empowerment.
Using a community-based peer model, the project will be addressing the financial empowerment needs of marginalized immigrants in Toronto. The first stage of this project involves conducting a needs assessment to evaluate the financial capability of low-income, immigrant families in Toronto. Stage two of the project will use findings from our needs assessment to develop a multi-method intervention, including a series of popular education financial capability workshops.
Stage 1: Needs Assessment
Stage 1 of the project (August 2013 to June 2014) will draw on a non-probability, convenient sample of 200 racialized immigrants with children to conduct a needs assessment survey. Based on themes and trends that arise from the survey, the core project team will also conduct qualitative interviews with immigrant families to document the challenges and barriers they face when accessing financial services and supports, as well as take note of the strategies they use to navigate financial systems and achieve their long-term financial goals. This phase of the project will end with a series of consultations with service providers and financial literacy trainers/experts to: 1) collect their feedback on the findings from our needs assessment; and 2) document the gaps in and successes of existing financial literacy interventions.
Our research is guided by the following specific research questions:
- What is the state of financial literacy among immigrant families living in Access Alliance’s east and west catchment areas?
- What factors directly or indirectly influence levels of financial literacy among immigrants?
- How do immigrants’ financial actions relate to their levels of financial literacy?
- What factors directly or indirectly influence their actions?
- To what extent are immigrants able to access the financial programs, services and supports they need to both make sound financial decisions for their families and act on those decisions?
Stage 2: Multi-Method Intervention
Stage two of the project (July 2015 to March 2015) will use findings from our needs assessment to develop a multi-method intervention. We hope this intervention will not only enhance newcomers’ knowledge of financial matters in Canada, but to also expand the range of opportunities available to act on this knowledge. More specifically, we hope to employ popular education principles to engage immigrant families in a series of interactive, action-orientated financial literacy workshops. These workshops will then be piloted over the course of 6 months and the final curriculum will be captured in an accessible toolkit. The workshops will be facilitated by members of the core project team, including the peer outreach workers.
Core Project Team:
- Arezo Matiullah, Peer Outreach Worker
- Halimo Warsame Ali, Peer Outreach Worker
- Julie-Anna Htoo, Peer Outreach Worker
- Kathie Droy, Manager, Child & Family Programs
- Monica Guzman, Peer Outreach Worker
- Parveen Shojai, Peer Outreach Worker
- Sherine Dahy, Peer Outreach Worker
- Ruth Wilson, Research Coordinator
- Sehr Athar, Research Coordinator
Financial Advocacy and Problem Solving (FAPS), St. Christopher House and The Catalyst Centre
This project received generous support from the Prosper Canada – TD Financial Literacy Grant Fund.