Case Study

United Way of Central Ohio, Financial Education Program Direction

The Context

In 2011, over 36,000 families in Franklin County (Ohio) had a household income that placed them below the federal poverty level. Knowing that many of these families may face – or already face – financial jeopardy, the United Way of Central Ohio is pilot testing an effort to deliver timely, relevant and engaging financial education to low-to-moderate income families.

The Critical Question

What do low-to-moderate income families need and want to learn regarding how to manage their household finances?

Our Solution

To help guide the direction of this program, we conducted a brief literature review regarding other financial education programs developed for and administered with low-income families. We also conducted focus group discussions with individuals who headed low-to-moderate income families and who were at risk of losing their home due to financial issues.


The research identified specific areas in which individuals’ financial literacy was limited or nonexistent – which could present obvious barriers to their ability to keep their home. The information and insights obtained during these focus groups sessions was directly applied to the creation of an education and training program that prepares social service case managers to coach low-to-moderate income families on financial matters.


Having used the research to help guide the formation of this program, United Way of Central Ohio’s focus (and ours) is now on evaluating the impact of this program on both case managers and low-to-moderate income families in the community.