Charity Stories

Improving Financial Literacy

Niagara organizations that teach or encourage financial literacy now have access to a permanent source of funds, thanks to Credit Counselling of Regional Niagara. The non-profit organization, which served over 100,000 people during the more than 40 years it was in operation in St. Catharines, closed its doors in 2019 after merging staff and operations with Toronto Credit Counselling (which has an office in St. Catharines). As a charitable organization, Credit Counselling of Regional Niagara had to ensure that any funds it held in reserves were handed over to another charity. Executive Director Bob Lawler said it made sense to find a way to keep helping Niagara residents who need information or support to handle their financial affairs well. Over the years, Lawler said he and his staff saw many examples of the hardship and stress caused by the lack of financial literacy, so endowing the reserve funds with the Niagara Community Foundation was a good way to ensure that the financial coaching part of their mandate could continue. Local non-profit groups can apply for grants from the interest earned from the roughly $650,000 endowment, Lawler said, as long as their plans to use the funds align with financial literacy objectives. The money could have gone to any registered Canadian charity, but Lawler said it “made the most sense to have the funds preserved and the interest used. This way, it can go on forever.” Sounds like a good example of financial literacy!