Financial Education for Vermont Service Members

Champlain Housing Trust used to be known as Burlington Community Last Trust; this image is a BCLT instructor presenting on homeownership to AmeriCorps from 2003. Champlain Housing Trust used to be known as Burlington Community Last Trust; this image is a BCLT instructor presenting on homeownership to AmeriCorps from 2003. 

The Home Education Team at Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) has equipped hundreds of community members with tools to build a better financial future. Vermont has depended upon CHT’s Housing Counselors to provide the state’s AmeriCorps members with a quality financial education for decades. In any given year SerVermont recruits 360 AmeriCorps members to serve at positions in education, public safety, health and the environment.
Multiple times a year CHT provides our programs with high quality instructors and content on money management, credit, and homeownership that receive resounding feedback:
“The facilitation was wonderful! I felt more confident with financial literacy after, and found the workshop to be accessible and engaging.” – JH, 2022
“This training was helpful in learning about tools to help stay afloat in a time where money seems really tight all around. Barbara was enthusiastic and engaging, and I learned a lot.” – AJ, 2022
“I feel more financially literate than I did prior to this event. Managing my income doesn’t seem as daunting of a task as I anticipated.” – HL, 2022
The current executive Director of SerVermont Phil Kolling sat in on his first financial literacy workshop while serving as an AmeriCorps member with the VT Youth Tomorrow program in 2006. His instructor then was Barbara Geries, current Home Education Manager at CHT. Barbara manages CHT’s counseling staff, and she is a regular facilitator for us today. Phil often drops in on her workshops to say hello, and he usually shares with the group that when he purchased a home in 2012 it was the knowledge he got from Barbara six years prior that saved him a great deal of money, time, and headache. 
I had the privilege of serving as an AmeriCorps member with CHT’s education team during my 21-22 term, and I can attest to their shared staff value around producing a quality educational experience. Ensuring information is accessible and digestible are priorities for the team. Moreover, outside of my time with AmeriCorps I am unfamiliar with practical fiscal education like what CHT provides. My experience in public education had very little budgeting, and certainly no information on credit or savings. Without the financial education we received from CHT, former AmeriCorps AS believes she'd still be in credit card debt. Our service member BD put it well when he said, “This information is so pertinent personally, professionally, socially, and within community. It’s super important and often not easily accessed education.”