FPA in the Community – Tandem

Submitted by Seth Tenpenny - Financial Education Committee

Tandem (formerly known as Tapestry Family Resource Center) is a not-for-profit located in south Minneapolis. Tandem’s mission is to serve women (who are often single parents) in crisis. Tandem seeks to achieve its mission through services and outreach such as classes that focus on parenting and relationships, personal development, employment readiness and vocational training. Tandem also provides its clientele with resources that include material needs (care packages and operation of a thrift store) and provides help with permanent housing and rental assistance.

TandemFPA MN was approached by three years ago with a request to supplement Tandem’s course offerings with focused learning on improving financial capabilities and empowering better financial decisions. The Financial Education committee was happy to begin working with Tandem. The initial format included four, weekly 1-hour sessions that focused on specific financial topics (e.g. budgeting, debt). After completion of these sessions, Tandem’s clients were provided with the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a financial planner. The Financial Education committee has continuously sought feedback from Tandem and its clientele in order to achieve the most effective outreach possible. As a result, the format has evolved into a 2-part workshop. The first session focuses on conversations with Tandem clients on thoughts and feelings about money and experiences with money. The conversation then shifts to identifying sources of money coming in, spending habits and what can happen when there is more month than money. This first session concludes with a discussion on the pros and cons of decisions that are made to bridge the gap between month and money. The second session is an open Q&A for class attendees. Questions and subsequent conversations are often centered on budgeting, credit and debt management and basic banking products and services. We make sure to take the last 30-minutes of this second session to learn about community based resources class participants have utilized or are currently utilizing. Once the class has shared community based resources with one another, we introduce and provide a brief overview of FPA partner organizations such as United Way, Prepare and Prosper, Lutheran Social Services and Family Means that may provide additional resources for Tandem clients.

I was once asked by a member of Tandem’s staff why I wanted to work with Tandem clients, who are often at, or near, a crisis situation. Like many of Tandem’s clients, I grew up in a single parent household for a good portion of my childhood. While I never experienced the financial hardships that many of Tandem’s clients face, I did experience a mother who worked off-shifts and sometimes multiple jobs in order to provide for her family. Despite this focus on work, there was a strong emphasis on education and giving back. I have been fortunate to learn a thing or two about financial capability. This base level of knowledge combined with a desire to give back to my community is why I volunteer through FPA MN and enjoy working with organizations such as Tandem.