Partnership with the LGBTQ Community Center of Greater Cleveland for Financial Education

Financial education is the backbone of First Federal Lakewood’s mission, so since the partnership between the bank and the LGBTQ Community Center of Greater Cleveland began, it has had nothing but success through its financial literacy seminars. 

“We’ve put on different financial literacy classes and seminars for different age groups ranging from the elderly to young people,” said Chalana Williams, SVP, chief community development officer at First Federal Lakewood. “Jose Matias Jr., branch manager at the Gordon Square branch, has a great partnership with the Center and frequently hosts classes.”  

When it comes to the classes, Matias focuses on teaching basic money management skills and has been hosting them at the LGBTQ Center quarterly for four years before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Our classes range from budgeting to home ownership to identity theft education,” he said.  

While the content that the team presents is the same, presenting it in a different way that caters to different age groups is key. 

“With the seniors, we focus more on retirement and how important it is on a fixed income and protecting yourself from identity theft,” said Williams. “With the younger people, changing up how the content is presented is important to appeal to their needs. We’d hit on why it’s important to protect yourself virtually when you’re online shopping and how crucial it is to save when you have a summer job.” 

Although many students pass through the seminars, Matias recalls one student who he will never forget. 

“I had a customer come up to me after class to personally ask what specific steps he needed to take to purchase a home,” he said.  

The customer didn’t have any credit so Matias set up an appointment with him to explain the secured credit card and how it works. Then, Matias helped set a plan with the customer to save money for a down payment through a savings account and auto transfer.  

“I told him to keep on attending home ownership seminars and to speak to one of our First Federal Lakewood mortgage officers,” he said. “To this day, every time he comes to the branch, he thanks me for helping him. I’m always asking him how home ownership is going and he always has a big smile as he tells me what he is doing or what he buys for the house. He had his first party during the Fourth of July weekend and we discussed how great it was. This is why we do the seminars.”