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FAITH & FINANCES TOOLKIT Planning for a Financial Learning Community 2016.2

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FAITH & FINANCES TOOLKIT Planning for a Financial Learning Community BY: J. MARK BOWERS EDITORS: JERILYN SANDERS, AMY KUENZEL, NATHANIEL BANKHEAD The Chalmers Center equips churches with resources and tools to walk alongside people who are poor, breaking the spiritual, social, and material bonds of poverty. As a result, churches model Jesus’ heart for the poor in practical ways, showing His care and power over every part of life.

Copyright © 2015 Chalmers Center for Economic Development

Permission from the Chalmers Center for Economic Development is required for reproduction or distribution of this material. To learn about training, give feedback, or for further inquiries, please contact: Chalmers Center 507 McFarland Road Lookout Mountain, GA 30750 USA Phone: 706.956.4119 Email: info@chalmers.org

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FAITH & FINANCES TOOLKIT: INTRODUCTION

Developing a whole new community might sound like more than you bargained for when signing up for this course. We want to encourage you to press on. Start small, start soon, and see where the Spirit leads. Remember, when reorienting the way we define poverty and the change process, this naturally becomes a long-term, redemptive journey. We see success in this work as the cultivation of meaningful relationships, not as numbers of participants graduated (though that’s great, too!). As a certified Faith & Finances facilitator, you are in a unique role in your community, leading the discussion on how to engage low-income people in a tangible, developmental way. This toolkit is designed to help you begin the process of putting this vision into practice by mobilizing a committed team and building lasting relationships with participants. The growing network of Faith & Finances facilitators around the US has provided incredible feedback on this process. Along with several pilot tests the Chalmers Center held in churches and non-profit organizations, the experiences of our facilitators reveal important learning about the practicalities of laying groundwork for a successful, sustainable community. The Start a Faith & Finances Community infographic on the next page gives you a glimpse of the full journey. Throughout this toolkit, we’ll address the key steps in detail as listed in the table of contents.

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CONTENTS Step 1: Brainstorm How to Get Started

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Step 2: Communicate the Vision in Your Church

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Step 3: Equip Your Church Organization

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Step 4: Create an Operating Budget

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Step 5: Empower a Team of Compassionate Allies

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Step 6: Network and Invite Low-Income Friends

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Step 7: Discover Blessing in New Community

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Step 8: Gather to Celebrate Ongoing Learning

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Faith & Finances: Equipping Allies Trainer Guide

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Works Cited

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Faith & Finances Toolkit

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Step 1: Brainstorm How to Get Started

STEP 1: BRAINSTORM HOW TO GET STARTED Let’s start thinking through how to begin. The most successful Faith & Finances communities we’ve seen are ones that were well administered and organized in advance of the actual class. This means you may spend months laying groundwork before you even use the curriculum. This is good and normal. Every context is different, but here’s a glimpse at what we envision on average.

Take the time you need. Training low-income people in money management uncovers a myriad of complexities. Allies, too, bring their own preconceived notions about poverty and money that must be properly addressed. We encourage you to prepare the proper support team and put the right systems in place so that you can recruit, retain, and walk with participants over the long term. May the Lord bring you just the right people! As you lay the groundwork for a Faith & Finances community, start by identifying existing ministries and programs that can participate, advocate, and direct others toward Faith & Finances. If you are working with your church, talk to your pastoral staff or church leadership. Mobilizing individuals is important; buy-in from leadership is also vital, fostering a common understanding of how Faith & Finances fits into the overall ministry. How do you and your leadership see Faith & Finances complementing or shaping your existing efforts? List key ministries in your church/organization or local community that interact with low-income people. Be always on the lookout for partnerships. For instance, Faith & Finances has proven to be a great asset to ministries providing various kinds of assistance: they may desire their participants to join your learning community!

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Faith & Finances Toolkit

Name the key players in those ministries – both leaders and volunteers. Think of those who have a passion for economic justice, could be an ally (mentor), or who could refer participants. List others who aren’t involved directly in a ministry or program but could be strong allies or advocates for you. You can even begin to list potential participants as they come up. Think about your fellow church members: in what ministries are they already involved? How would their time be allocated?

Categorize the individuals identified. In which area might each of them fit?

Leadership Team

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Potential Participant

Ally for Participant


Step 1: Brainstorm How to Get Started

Describe your plan to connect with and mobilize each category of person mentioned as a potential part of the Faith & Finances community.

After identifying existing connections, consider preliminary ways that you could mobilize other advocates and allies (and even participants and funders!) through church announcements, flyers, or bulletin inserts. Below is a sample announcement slide. Ă˜ How might you adapt this slide for your church or context? Download an editable PowerPoint or Keynote version to try out.

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Faith & Finances Toolkit

New facilitators often ask about how to word this messaging so it doesn't sound like you're labeling people as poor or wealthy. We do want to be clear and specific, but remain sensitive to stereotypes or negative language. For example, instead of poor or low-income, consider saying something like: people who are just starting out in learning how to manage their money or people without a lot of extra money to spare. □

What other ideas might you have for getting the word out about your Faith & Finances community? How will you do this in culturally sensitive ways for everyone involved?

STEP 2: COMMUNICATE THE VISION IN YOUR CHURCH In addition to becoming certified as a Faith & Finances facilitator, you are also a key advocate for financial learning and connection of people across socioeconomic lines in your church/community. Sounds like a pretty big task! This is why we encourage facilitators to recruit at least 2-3 others to form a Faith & Finances leadership team. It will be near impossible to be the only one overseeing everything. But because Faith & Finances is designed to be a learning community, the good news is that you shouldn’t play every position anyhow. Your certification enables you to facilitate the course, but always with an eye on ways to tap into the strengths of those around you. Your leadership team will share the responsibility of advocating for the formation of a Faith & Finances community, recruiting and matching allies/participants, coordinating dinners and childcare during the course, fundraising, and educating the church and community. Having a strong leadership team helps Faith & Finances to become sustainable over the long term. A job description for the Faith & Finances Leadership team is below. □

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How might you adapt and use this job description to recruit leaders in your community? Use track changes, or highlight changes you make as you edit the job description.


Step 2: Communicate the Vision in Your Church

Job Description: Faith & Finances Leadership Team JOB SUMMARY The primary responsibilities of the Faith & Finances Leadership Team are logistical oversight, ongoing advocacy and education of the church and community, and potential fundraising for all aspects of the Faith & Finances community.

RESPONSIBILITIES Ø Advocate and educate the church and community about the progress and accomplishments of Faith & Finances, communicating especially with benevolence ministry leadership; Ø Coordinate the recruitment and training of allies and pair them with participants; Ø Oversee logistics of each Faith & Finances course offering, including learning space, dinners, and childcare; Ø Plan and implement fundraising efforts (if needed); and Ø Commit to serving on the Faith & Finances Leadership Team for at least one year

QUALIFICATIONS Ø Follower of Jesus who maintains a vision for His kingdom and reconciliation of all things, including personal finances and assets; Ø Passion to see people at all income levels flourish together in every way; Ø Desire to participate in open dialogue about issues faced by low-income people and the role of the church in addressing these; Ø Strong administrative qualities with attention to detail; Ø Dependable and punctual character; Ø Active member or lay person at _______________ church. If you are interested in joining the Faith & Finances Leadership team, please contact:

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Faith & Finances Toolkit

STEP 3: EQUIP YOUR CHURCH ORGANIZATION You’ve begun to brainstorm how Faith & Finances fits programmatically into what your community is already doing. As you build your leadership team and think about recruiting participants and allies, we encourage you to ask: how will Faith & Finances complement and shape our organization/church’s existing ministry efforts? Creating consensus among church members can be a challenging process that takes time. Do not feel behind if it takes months to lay the groundwork before offering your first Faith & Finances course! Here are a few ideas to begin this conversation with your church/leadership: 1. 2. 3. 4.

If low-income participants are not already a part of our church body, how will they perceive the welcome? Will participants believe they are only there for Faith & Finances, or is this clearly a step into the life of our church community? How will staff members react if implementing Faith & Finances takes several months? Is our church or organization’s mission conducive to dialogue across socioeconomic lines?

What other questions might you add? Record them below:

As mentioned, in some of your contexts, you and your leadership team may spend months casting vision for Faith & Finances in your community before beginning a course. The Chalmers Center has created the following Helping Without Hurting resources that may help you to reframe the conversation about poverty alleviation and lay important foundations for a healthy Faith & Finances community.

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Step 3: Equipping Your Church Organization

When Helping Hurts has shaped the way over 300,000 church and ministry leaders approach poverty alleviation. Now, the Small Group Experience equips congregations and ministry networks with the principles of When Helping Hurts. Utilizing free online video lessons, each of the six units engages small groups with discussion questions, application exercises, and materials for further learning. To learn more, visit this page. Available through Amazon, Moody Publishers, Barnes and Noble, iBook.

Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence applies the principles of When Helping Hurts, serving as a practical guidebook for church staff, deacons, or volunteers who work with lowincome people. With stories, forms, and online tools for your church to use, Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence equips you to walk alongside the materially poor in humble relationships. To learn more, visit this page. Available through Amazon, Moody Publishers, Barnes and Noble, iBook.

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Faith & Finances Toolkit

STEP 4: CREATE AN OPERATING BUDGET Getting people together always requires financial resources. Because much of the labor (leadership team, allies) is provided by volunteers, you should be able to run things at a relatively low-cost. Below is a sample Faith & Finances Operating Budget. This sample budget assumes that you hold 1-2 courses per year. Take a few minutes to think through the following questions: 1.

Does your church or organization have a benevolence/missions budget that may be able to fund Faith & Finances? If so, who might you need to meet with about this? If you belong to an organization, where will you get funds for Faith & Finances?

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If you have to fundraise, who are key individual donors that have a heart for long-term development among people who are poor and a passion for financial reconciliation? How will you approach them for funds?

3.

What plans do you have for certifying others (even future graduates!) as Faith & Finances facilitators? Might you ask allies or leadership team members audit the Faith & Finances course?

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Step 4: Create an Operating Budget

Using track changes or highlighting, take a few moments to adapt this sample budget for your church or organizational context. Faith & Finances Operating Budget

Expenses

Human Resources

Community Logistics

Year 1

Certification of Faith & Finances Facilitators (2 at $450 each; 2 auditors at $25 each)

$950

Materials for preparing your community: Equipping Allies Training Guide, When Helping Hurts: The Small Group Experience

$100

Faith & Finances Participant Guides*

$200

Training Materials (Flipchart paper, markers, post-it notes, colored paper, etc.)

$75

Meals and Snacks

$250

Childcare

$250

Miscellaneous

$25

TOTAL

$1,850

*Assumes 20 Faith & Finances Participant Guides at approximately $10 each, including shipping estimate. Certified facilitators can order participant guides through our online portal for $7.95 (excluding shipping.)

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Faith & Finances Toolkit

STEP 5: EMPOWER A TEAM OF COMPASSIONATE ALLIES A team of committed, solid allies is foundational for a thriving Faith & Finances community—and yet also one of the most tricky pieces. Ideally, allies are the primary long-term point of contact with participants during, and especially after, the course. An ally is much like a mentor, but because the term mentor can imply a superior-inferior relationship, or an age difference, the Chalmers Center prefers to use the term ally. Remember, Faith & Finances is a learning opportunity for allies as well, as they build friendships with people of different backgrounds. The entire Faith & Finances community should be invited to rethink financial flourishing in broader, more kingdom of God terms - including allies! Our model for adult mentorship is rich: an integration of Circles of Support and Welfare-to-Work: Establishing a Church-Based Mentoring Ministry (Amy Sherman, PhD.) We encourage you to learn more! In this model, 2-3 allies are placed around each participant. Because a one-on-one mentoring approach can cause burnout and frustration, a team of allies is the ideal structure. This approach releases one person from being the expert who must bear sole responsibility for addressing a participant’s situation alone. When several people come around an individual and their family, this provides a context for personal growth, access to social resources, and supportive relationships that encourage participants. Ultimately, this encourages reconciliation for allies and participants as the family of God across economic lines. Ironically, in our experience, the best Faith & Finances allies may not necessarily have a professional finance background. Also, because 72% of all Faith & Finances participants across the US were women, the need to recruit female allies should also be a key consideration. (Faith & Finances Annual Report, 2014.) Oftentimes, the realities of having limited allies mean that you may not have enough to place 2-3 with each participant. In some cases, you may only be able to recruit 2-3 allies for the entire class! In this situation, our facilitators recommend that the leadership team fill as many of the roles as possible – calling participants each week, offering rides, or one-on-one budget counseling. Others recommend putting the participants into small ally teams themselves so they can form supportive groups. Allies should be invited to attend the Faith & Finances courses alongside participants; this gives them a context to develop a relationship and begin unpacking financial issues together. We strongly suggest at least one of each participant’s allies attends the course. This helps allies track with the participant’s learning and build trust around the topic of personal finances. Note that this may mean your Faith & Finances class is made up of 6-8 participants and 6-8 allies. In the Chalmers Center’s relational model, this is great success! The appendix of this toolkit includes a short trainer guide called Faith & Finances: Equipping Allies. You can use this two-hour trainer guide to train allies in principles and practices of empowering, relational mentoring, and briefly introduce them to the concept of dialogue education. This training also serves the purpose of screening potential allies, testing for humility and the heart of a learner. Because of the importance of preparing allies well,

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Step 5: Empower a Team of Compassionate Allies

we’ve recently expanded the Faith & Finances: Equipping Allies trainer guide into a full-day, more robust trainer guide that further explores causes of poverty, stages of change, and socioeconomic differences to help you fully empower your team of allies. The full guide is available for purchase on the Faith & Finances portal to certified facilitators. (chalmers.org/portal) We believe that no ally is better than a bad ally, avoiding the potential to further exacerbate the broken identities of both people! As emphasized, allies bring their own preconceptions and learning styles to this community: a one-hour or even one-day learning event is only the beginning of preparing them for relational ministry. The purpose of these smaller tools is to aid in the larger, longer process through which the Lord is changing and shaping hearts. You may find that going through Helping Without Hurting, The Small Group Experience with a group of allies is needed over a period of weeks or months before starting a course. Just as the Faith & Finances course uses 12 weeks to introduce new content and ideas in finances, an ally’s introduction to low-income realities may also be a longer process. You may want to expand, adapt, or cut down the content of the ally training, depending on the needs of allies in your context. 1.

Examine which parts of the Faith & Finances: Equipping Allies trainer guide you might adapt and use to equip your Faith & Finances allies (see appendix). Use track changes, highlighting, or insert your comments below as you think through the process. At this stage let your ideas be rudimentary/big picture. After the live training, you can refine them into specifics, especially after you’ve put together your leadership team.

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Faith & Finances Toolkit

STEP 6: NETWORK AND INVITE LOW-INCOME FRIENDS Recruiting and retaining participants can be one of the greatest challenges in maintaining a Faith & Finances community. Many low-income learners who are most in need of financial education and healthy, supportive community tend to be the very ones who resist attendance or drop out of the course before completion. In identifying participants, we recommend that you take these points into account:

1. RECRUIT RELATIONALLY AND BY WORD-OF-MOUTH Remember, many low-income people have low levels of literacy or come from oral cultures where communication is done primarily verbally. According to a study in the Journal of Family Economics and Resource Management, people who live on a low-income identified word-of-mouth as the best way to get the message out about financial education programs. With this is mind, make sure you do not rely on written marketing alone—take the extra time to talk to potential participants face to face about their interest, using relational networks to spread the message about Faith & Finances. On the following page, you’ll find a poster for marketing Faith & Finances to a low-income audience. Download an editable PDF version in to adapt it for your context. Consider sending this to other churches/organizations in your neighborhood and/or hanging it in strategic locations in the community.

2. FOCUS ON EXISTING ALLIES When participants show interest in joining the Faith & Finances course, ask them to identify an already existing ally in their lives. Ask that a friend, mentor, sibling, or parent who already plays that role attend the course with them. That way, you will already have that ally as a resource—and likely, this person understands the participant’s situation well. If motivation decreases, the participant will also be less likely to drop out if a supportive person has come alongside them.

3. INCENTIVIZE LEARNING Providing participants with a convenient context to attend the course is essential. Having meals and childcare available makes it possible for working people to attend the course. Dinner provides an incentive to come after a long day of work (if on a weeknight), and childcare allows a safe place to leave children and concentrate on participation and learning. Our experience has also shown that relationships were strengthened by starting the course with informal mealtimes. This served to build rapport and supply a relational basis for working through difficult financial issues together. Charging each participant a small fee encourages participants to value the learning. While at first it may seem questionable to charge low-income people for financial education, the Chalmers Center actually believes that asking people to pay empowers them and affirms their dignity, introducing early on the concept of ownership and investing. Aside from these reasons, practically speaking, $10 or $20 is a very reasonable price to pay for education, course materials, childcare, and meals over 12 weeks.

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Step 6: Identify and Invite Participants

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Faith & Finances Toolkit

STEP 7: DISCOVER BLESSING IN NEW COMMUNITY It’s time for class to begin! As mentioned, so much more happens in these communities than increased financial literacy. Embrace this, setting a tone more like a party than a class. Have music going when participants arrive. Get to know them. Laugh over dinner. Make this fun. There’s no test at the end. Practice embodying all these ideas about relationships done right! While creating a good environment is essential, safe, accountable, enjoyable learning also requires that the facilitator and the leadership team make sure things flow smoothly behind the scenes as the class progresses. Here are a few things to keep in mind: Finding your Role Before the Course Faith & Finances facilitators have learned through trial and error that getting the right people in the room can be a challenge. Some people who sign up for the 12week course as participants are perhaps ready to be allies; others who elect to be allies could really use a run-through as participants! Getting all the interested parties together ahead of time and presenting the different roles allows folks to make a better informed decision about how they want to be involved. A guide for a pre-course discussion, Finding your Role, along with an example flyer, is available to certified facilitators at chalmers.org/portal. A sample of the editable flyer is below and you can download editable PDF versions in full color or black and white to adapt it for your context. Many have found this precourse meeting to be a great time to roleplay Eva and Isaac’s overview story (also available on the portal). Breaking Bread Together As mentioned, a meal is an excellent way to break down boundaries and nourish ourselves together. This allows the Faith & Finances community to become friends, quietly reminding us that we all depend on the Provider for sustenance. Many facilitators have a robust leadership team that home-cooks all the meals. Others with less support have done pizza and bags of salad each week. Many have invited participants to bring food, as well, or used takethemameal.com to invite small groups and friends in the church or community to help on different weeks. Eating Alone, Eating with Jesus is a great article on the power of eating as a central place for uniting what has been divided by sin. “At a good meal,” author Branson Parler says, “the bonds that sin broke begin to be restored. We reconnect with our Creator who provides the food, with the abundant creation that is our food and with other humans who share our meal and our lives.” You can read more here. Pairing Participants and Allies Facilitators often ask, “When do we pair up our allies and participants?” There is no one right answer to this, but in general, facilitators in the Faith & Finances network have found that the best answer to be: as soon as possible. Generally, most facilitators find they wish they would have emphasized the roles sooner rather than later. Some participants may come with existing allies as suggested, which is very helpful. For others, you may need to wait a week or two to see what natural connections form. We do recommend formalizing this relationship as soon as comfortably

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Step 7: Discover Blessing in New Community

possible so that friendships can begin to solidify. We also request that ally-participant relationships be the same gender, or involve both parties in the couple (this is best for participants or allies!) 1.

What other ideas might you have for facilitating a strong, healthy start to ally-participant relationships?

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Faith & Finances Toolkit

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STEP 8: GATHER TO CELEBRATE ONGOING LEARNING Let’ s be real. Much of the academic research reveals that financial education has mediocre impact. One writer at the American Economic Association lamented the extraordinary resources required to make financial education work: the content would have to be personalized, offered frequently and presented in a safe environment by “affordable, competent, independent financial-educator-counselor therapists.” Sounds exactly like an ongoing, relational approach, doesn’t it? The Faith & Finances course sets participants on a cycle of action and reflection. However slowly, graduates' finances and relationships will begin to change. Their attitudes and actions, being restored by self-reflection and the power of the Holy Spirit, will result in tangible transformation. This could be manifested in simple ways, such as a higher credit score, an asset purchase like a car or washing machine, or the attainment of a degree. Whatever the case, there will be cause for ongoing celebration, fodder for conversation, and new learning. Many of our facilitators have experimented with ongoing gatherings to learn and grow together after the course ends. We’ve taken these best practices and packaged them together, calling them Faith & Finances alumni gatherings. After you complete live training, resources for Faith & Finances alumni gatherings will be available to you at chalmers.org/portal under the Follow-up After Graduation tab. This includes ideas for a graduation ceremony, best practices on content and structure of ongoing alumni meetings, and a reflection guide for your leadership team. We’re excited to see how you creatively bring these alive! Using these resources isn’t mandatory; these are flexible guides to help deepen relationships in your Faith & Finances community and support newly adopted, ongoing financial practices. This is also a space for graduates to share their learning and to take active roles in the Faith & Finances community as allies and members of the leadership team. As they co-lead these alumni gatherings with you, we encourage you to empower graduates to make decisions on the format and content of the meetings, as well as the logistics. This might include calling fellow graduates, planning and arranging the meals, finding a location, setting up tables, chairs, and any presentation tools (e.g. poster board, easels, markers, etc.). As the facilitator, your role is to lead with this transition in mind. We can’t wait to hear your stories several years from now about the leaders raised up through your Faith & Finances communities. Let’s pray together that the Spirit will move mightily in all of us through this work!

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WORKS CITED Corbett, Steve, and Fikkert, Brian, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor‌and Yourself, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0802457066 Payne, Ruby K., A Framework for Understanding Poverty, 2005. ISBN: 978-1929229482. Rhodes, Michael, Ally Orientation Materials, Advance Memphis, 2012. Sherman, Amy, Establishing a Church-based Welfare to Work Mentoring Ministry, 2000. ISBN: 1-5581-076-4.

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Faith & Finances Toolkit  

A guide to planning your financial learning community