Rebuilding lives through financial literacy training

The Jean Tweed Centre is a leading not-for-profit community-based organization that provides treatment, support and a safe place for women across Ontario looking to overcome challenges with substance use, gambling and mental health. The organization helps its clientele learn the life skills and healthy habits needed to build a new start for a better future.

Jean Tweed Centre offers a variety of programming, including a live-in residential program, an intensive day program, support groups, and more. One of the gaps they identified as part of their programming content was financial literacy, so they started running Money Matters, a free introductory financial literacy program for adults.

“Many of the women we work with have previously experienced many transitions in their lives, and this has led to some of the challenges they have faced. Therefore, we wanted to ensure we provide comprehensive programming to those we serve,” says Sharicka Reid-Scaletta, Manager of Community Mental Health and Addictions Services at Jean Tweed Centre. “That’s where Money Matters comes in.  Money can be one of the biggest triggers for individuals who have gambling problems or experience substance use issues, so we use this program to teach financial literacy and empower our clients with the tools they need to support their recovery.”

Money Matters consists of five key topics: Spending Plans, Banking Basics, Borrowing Money, Ways to Save, and Smart Shopping. Workshops can be delivered directly by organizations or with the optional support of local TD Bank Group volunteer-tutors. Reid-Scaletta says Jean Tweed Centre has been running Money Matters workshops for over a year and a half on all the various topics and has leveraged the volunteer-tutors to help deliver the program. Money Matters was developed with support of founding sponsor TD Bank Group through its corporate citizenship platform, the TD Ready Commitment.

“We’ve run every single workshop because we believe that financial literacy is one of the ways our clients can begin to reclaim their lives. The skills learned from this programming will help our clients work towards their goals, including obtaining stable and affordable housing and being able to take care of themselves and their families.”

Reid-Scaletta explains that many of the women they work with have financial responsibilities such as childcare or rent, but because of the past behaviour they’ve engaged in, their outlook on money may have been skewed. She says that Money Matters has helped clients re-initiate skills that may have been lost, build upon skills they may have had, and develop new skills – all which support their recovery process.

“We serve people from all different walks of life, many of whom have professional or prestigious backgrounds. Some of these people used to consider themselves to be very financially responsible, and so this program has helped them realize that they have money management skills – they may have just been lost along their journey. Through Money Matters, our clients can revisit the skills they used to have and rebuild them to incorporate them into a healthier lifestyle.”

Money Matters is a turn-key program that any organization can use. Written in clear language, the workbooks feature approachable, discussion-based activities. Reid-Scaletta appreciated that the content was easy to digest and comprehend.

“The content was a great fit for our clients as it was straight to the point, had no jargon and was written in layman’s terms,” she says. “This kind of simplicity is really helpful for people experiencing mental health issues and possibly even physical pain from withdrawal symptoms.”

Since 2022, Jean Tweed Centre has run 10 Money Matters workshops and doesn’t envision stopping anytime soon. They’ve seen first-hand how the program has impacted their clients and allowed them to walk away with a sense of purpose.

“This program has given people their financial power back and allowed them to determine where and how they spend their money. It’s just one more tool in their toolbox to take away and incorporate into their daily lives.”

To learn more about Money Matters and how you can bring the program to your community, visit abcmoneymatters.ca.