Chelsea Wunnicke from Richland County UW Extension co-chairs the Small Savings Build Big Dreams (SSBD) team which includes County-based Extension Educators and Specialists who have created a large volume of outreach materials for parents, grandparents, and community members interested in learning more about promoting and saving for children’s higher education. A public website — https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/collegesavings/ connects learners to videos, self-study materials, and trusted resources. Educational materials have also been made available through Extension Educators in their communities, including presentations, English and Spanish fact sheets, news releases, newsletters, and surveys.
Statewide outreach in 2016, 2017, and 2018 included presentations at state conferences, community events, school activities, fairs, as well as media campaigns. All households participating in an outreach event were provided with resources about how to begin saving for higher education, trustworthy websites related to education and career planning, and contact information for personal support through their county Extension educator.
Through 16 presentations and events, more than 1500 households increased their knowledge about the importance of saving for college, along with options for starting a higher education savings account that best matches their family’s situation. In addition to presentations by Extension educators, newsletters, social media and fact sheets sent home with children or included in parent newsletters reached another 1000 households per year. Interactive displays were also created to engage both parents and their young children in talking about future career interests and to consider saving for education to support that career. At 10 interactive family displays, 350 parents and children together engaged in activities and beginning conversations around career interests and college savings. Because materials are available in both English and Spanish, almost 10% of participating families included Spanish-speaking individuals.
In addition to almost 5000 young families targeted directly with this much-needed and desired information, news releases through local papers, radio stations, and social media reached an additional 6000+ households with the goal of encouraging conversations around future career and educational attainment. Wisconsin Public Television’s ‘University Place’ series recorded the Wunnicke’s presentation, making it available to viewers across the state via their television broadcasts, and resulting in an additional 60 viewings online.
Wunnicke was awarded the Wisconsin Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (WEAFCS) Rosalie Powell Financial Management Award. The Rosalie Powell Financial Management award was created to recognize a WEAFCS member or team who has developed an outstanding educational program on some aspect of family financial management.