Free Financial Education and Literacy ProgramsRecognizing the role we could play in helping both members and the community at-large meet their financial goals, in 2005 we committed ourselves to providing free Financial Education and Literacy programs. Through these classes, our goal is to create a clearer understanding of needs and wants, the pros and cons of credit, and the importance of savings and paying oneself first, all of which contribute to financial empowerment, independence and peace of mind. In 2013, we offered 65 Financial Literacy classes to over 750 individuals, including special needs students in Edison and Piscataway, every eleventh grader enrolled in Financial Literacy classes in Basking Ridge Public Schools, unemployed adults participating in the New Jersey Work First Program, and at-risk youth in residence at the Somerset Home for Temporarily Displaced Children and Bonnie Brae School for Boys. In 2014, we expanded these programs to include formerly homeless veterans now living at Hope for Veterans® Valley Brook Homes on the VA Lyons campus. In addition, we are piloting a Spanish language curriculum that is more than a mere translation of English materials into Spanish, but is actually borne out of and grounded in the Latino Culture, thanks in part to a grant from the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education. All Financial Education classes are taught by seasoned Affinity Federal Credit Union employees who are experts in their field. For instance, our security and risk management staff teach identity theft, while front-line staff teach banking basics and credit cards. Through an affiliation with Hunterdon Auto, we are able to bring our classes to the dealership to learn about buying and financing a car directly from their sales and financing staff. We have found that these interactive, hands-on classes have a long-term impact on participants' understanding of, and comfort with, transactional accounts, saving, credit, and financial institutions in general.