Monday, March 20, 2023

McLean Institute Teams with Catholic Charities for Financial Education

Courtesy of Kevin Bain
Courtesy of Kevin Bain

The University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement has teamed with Catholic Charities to offer a series of free financial awareness workshops in the Calhoun County town of Vardaman.

The first session was June 18 at the Vardaman Public Library, and three more workshops are planned over the next six weeks. The remaining workshops will be held at the Catholic Charities of Northeast Mississippi Family Life Center, 210 North Main St., and are free and open to the public.

The financial awareness workshops, which feature information and activities for adults and children, are made possible by a grant from the Caterpillar Foundation.

“The mission of the McLean Institute is to advance transformation through service at the university and to fight poverty through education,” said Albert Nylander, the institute’s director and UM professor of sociology. “Financial education for the entire family is a critical tool for economic mobility, and we are pleased to collaborate with students and community partners to expand our work in this area.”

The upcoming sessions, all set for 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays, are:

  • July 9 – Budgeting and Credit Scores
  • July 23 – Banking and Savings Options
  • Aug. 13 – Credit Cards and Debt Management

“The first workshop was a conversational, question-and-answer-based approach covering budgeting and saving,” said Vera Gardner, an Innovation Scholar with the McLean Institute. “Our goal is to reach a total of 100 youth and adults through these workshops, which are designed to strengthen family financial stability by offering money management resources and teaching children to think about money.”

As an Innovation Scholar, Gardner works with the McLean Institute’s Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development initiative, which is funded through a grant from the Hearin Foundation. The CEED program offers university students opportunities to work with community partners as they develop solutions to challenges facing communities across Mississippi.

“Financial empowerment is a priority area for Catholic Charities,” said Danna Johnson, who serves as program coordinator. “These workshops will allow us to support families and serve the community by engaging adults and children in financial education.”

Materials will be provided to all workshop participants. Children are invited to attend and participate in age-appropriate financial education activities.

For more about the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, visit For more about Catholic Charities of Northeast Mississippi, go to

Staff Report of the Ole Miss News Desk