News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 16, 2013

ISU, ONB start financial initiative

Effort strives to make people ‘financially fit’

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — With the start of a new year, many people strive to get physically fit.

Now, a new Indiana State University program aims to make children, college students and adults “financially fit.”

University representatives joined Old National Bank officials Tuesday in announcing a financial literacy program to be based in the Scott College of Business at Federal Hall.

The Old National Bank Foundation has committed $250,000 for a financial health classroom and to support a financial literacy program for the next five years.

Other partners are the Vigo County School Corp. and the Terre Haute Children’s Museum. Among the volunteers for the programs will be ONB employees.

“Think about the difference we can make in this community,” said Bob Jones, ONB president and CEO, as he talked about the collaborative effort.

The goal is to start with kids, but eventually to get the whole community and people of all ages involved, said Patty Butwin, a member of the ISU Foundation and Children’s Museum boards. Financial health is an important concept for everyone, she said.

The partnership will build on initiatives already put in place by the Bayh College of Education and its Center for Math Education, including the “Go Figure” program, which partners with the Children’s Museum to help young people develop math skills.

Each semester in the “Go Figure” program, Indiana State students and faculty encourage children to get excited about math through topics such as elections, piloting and sports.

But the new financial literacy initiative also will involve the adult community, Butwin said. “We still have a little work to do there, in terms of delivery and how we’ll do it.”

The financial literacy project will provide many community service opportunities for ISU students, said Jodi Frost, coordinator of the program. “Not only will they be helping others, but also increasing their own financial literacy,” she said.

Lynn Hughes, executive director of the Terre Haute Children’s Museum, gave a sneak preview of an event made possible by the new literacy program.

On Feb. 2, the museum will host a Benjamin Franklin Birthday Bash that will be open to everyone who visits the museum that day. (Once visitors pay the admission cost, there is no extra fee).

The goal is to get children and adults alike “excited about being financially fit,” Hughes said. There will be a variety of activities that teach visitors about bank accounts, checking services, earning, spending, saving, borrowing and other financial concepts.  

The goal is “to set the stage for a lifelong appreciation of money, responsible budgeting and planning for the future,” Hughes said.

At the end of the day, there will be a presentation by someone portraying Ben Franklin, Hughes said. “The goal for us is to hide learning in fun, not just for kids, but also for parents.”

While ISU has had financial literacy efforts in the past, the new initiative will “wrap them together in one umbrella” and then add to it, Frost said. “We’ll try to enhance what is there.”

Frost anticipates events for college-age students that might deal with such topics as student loans, debit cards and credit cards.

ISU also will work with the Vigo County School Corp., potentially working with after-school programs and other programs already in place.

After Tuesday’s announcement, Hughes and others were already talking about potential new programs. One possibility is taking some of the programs to outlying Wabash Valley communities, for those who might have a difficult time making it to the museum in downtown Terre Haute.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or