N. Charleston organization hosts money fair to educate about financial literacy

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – Around 100 community members took advantage of Increasing H.O.P.E Financial Training Center’s money fair on Saturday.

Increasing H.O.P.E, which stands for “Helping Others Prosper Economically”, held the event at the Opportunity Center in North Charleston to celebrate 19 years of service. The event educated community members and businesses about the importance of financial literacy.

Increasing H.O.P.E serves as a one-stop shop to help individuals manage their money by providing resources to gain, sustain and maintain assets.

Dorothea Bernique, the Founder and Executive Director of Increasing H.O.P.E, wants to see community members become educated in all areas of personal finance.

The event kicked off with a panel discussion with legislative leaders including, Rep. J.A. Moore (D-Berkeley, Charleston) and Rep. Kathy Landing (R-Charleston) and Sen. Sean Bennett (R-Charleston, Dorchester). The three lawmakers discussed financial issues that the community experiences and what they can do to fix it.

Sen. Bennett said he strongly believed that the first step to moving someone out of the poverty level to the middle class is to graduate high school. Then, getting a full-time job out of high school and waiting to have children until after you get your full-time job.

“And if you do those things in that sequence, just by itself, provides you just better opportunity to move up into that middle class,” Bennett said. “So, we need to make sure we’re offering programs in high school to keep kids engaged and provide different pathways for those kids.”

During the panel discussion, the legislative leaders emphasized the importance of educating the younger generation about being financially literate sooner rather than later.

“The skillsets that we learn at a younger age, we tend to take them through life and if you’re not learning about savings until high school or even later, then it doesn’t have as much impact on your life,” Bernique said. “If you learn what we call pay yourself first, PYF, you take that through life, you’ll end up being that millionaire that they talked about today.”

The event also had over 30 vendors providing information and resources regarding insurance, investment, mortgages, and banking. Throughout the day they had two classes, housing and credit 101 and starting your small business.

Pam Bryant, the Vice President and Lead Specialist for Philanthropy and Community Impact with the Wells Fargo Foundation said that they recognize the importance of connecting with organizations, like Increasing H.O.P.E, to build community and personal wealth.

Bryant also touched on the importance of the younger crowds gaining knowledge of finances early.

“Habits start early. Good habits, bad habits, and so if we can begin to teach young people, children, from as early as elementary school, the importance of saving money, paying yourself first, being responsible when you do acquire debt” Bryant said. “If we can begin to teach those kinds of skillsets early, those are skillsets that follow them into adulthood.”

Bernique encourages if you couldn’t make it to the event, but are interested in learning more, to visit their website where they have financial classes scheduled throughout the whole year that anyone can attend. She said anyone is also welcome to call them at 843-225-4343.

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