Common Cents

by RISE Foundation, Inc.
Common Cents
Shelby County Drug Courts
Shelby County Drug Courts

For the next three months RISE will partner with Shelby County Government through its Judicare referral program for adult males referred through the Shelby County Recovery Courts. Judicare offers its clients a second chance at getting stability and direction in their lives. RISE will offer intensive financial literacy and education classes. These participants are working hard to overcome setbacks that have occurred in their lives due to drug and alcohol dependency. This program will reconnect families and link them with resources to help them build better financial habits.

Through the RISE Common Cents program, a series of workshops will cover prudent financial budgeting and spending plan creation. For many clients, this will be the first time taking a deep dive into a critical analysis of their finances. Collaborating with the RISE Foundation was the perfect fit for the Judicare program because Common Cents is designed to meet people where they currently are in their financial struggle. 

Common Cents is uniquely effective by providing participants with valuable information that enables them to better manage their financial resources and make better financial choices in an environment that is nurturing, peer-guided and inclusive.  Judicare participants will discuss creating/maintaining a spending plan and managing credit.  They will be introduced to techniques that better utilize credit wisely and re-build and sustain their credit history.    

Memphis is proud of the work that programs like Judicare is doing to overcome poverty in our communities. With the help of more partnerships like Shelby County Government, the RISE Foundation will be able to introduce more families to the principles of utilizing a spending plan and designing budgets that work through the tough times smarter.

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Grant Award
Grant Award

Cities in America are slowly recovering from the pandemic and for some like Memphis, old problems such as poverty are new again.  RISE has received a program grant from the Assisi Foundation of Memphis to help make improvements to the Common Cents service structure.  The award comes with access to a consultant and the opportunity to expand to additional markets.  This much needed lift in capacity building for the Common Cents program would allow RISE to offer our services in more businesses and commercial settings that can reach many more hourly wage workers who have been hit harder than most because of the shelter in place mandates.

The Common Cents program, is a workplace financial education program, launched in response to broad based concerns about poor credit and bankruptcy issues in the Memphis area.  Common Cents offers area employers the opportunity to give hourly workers the gift of financial literacy and in doing so increase productivity, decrease absenteeism and create greater workforce productivity.   The curriculum features topics such as banking, budgeting and spending strategies and debt management. More than 4,000 Memphis-based employees from 50 companies/organizations have successfully completed the curriculum.  RISE now operates the Greater Memphis Financial Empowerment Center (GMFEC) in Shelby County (created by the Shelby County Trustee’s Office and the City of Memphis) through a match grant from Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE).   RISE is the official provider of service (one-on-one financial counseling) for the center. GMFEC opened in April 2019 and focuses on the following critical financial issues:  Debt reduction, improved credit scores, and increased savings of citizens in our community. RISE believes that without financial literacy skills, financially vulnerable individuals in our community will never be able to accumulate family assets and more importantly, will never enjoy the freedom and security of having improved life choices. For many wage earner families, the inability to make good financial choices is less a failure of will and more a failure of circumstance.  

Accumulated research conducted by the Responsible Lending Collaborative, concluded the poor do indeed pay more. From auto insurance to banking services to groceries, lower income families have only high-cost options conveniently available.  In order to get ahead lower income families must learn how to consistently shave quarters from their limited income and turn them into assets. An investment in RISE continues to be an investment in the future of Shelby County.  We have proven that it pays dividends to give people the tools they need to become and remain self-sufficient rather than pay for social services that only treat the symptoms.  RISE data documents that the cycle of generational poverty can be broken.  We all win in terms of decreased crime, increased productivity, lower healthcare costs and more engaged citizens.

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Consultant Firm
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Common Cents
Common Cents

All of our lives have changed in one way or another due to the uncertainty and chaos caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic. It is times like these that we have to fall back on practicies that ensure our most critical needs are being met first for our families such as food, shelter, transportation and utilities.  

Businesses large and small are feeling these same burdens and are turning to alternative solutions for their employees.  The RISE Common Cents curriculum is being undertaken at MedTemps Memphis to help their employees to understand the long-term effects of goal setting and resilency during these turbulent times.   

On Saturday September 26th and October 3rd, the RISE Foundation’s Common Cents program conducted a two-part workshop for MedTemps Memphis. The four-hour intensive training covered topics such as goal setting, creating a monthly spending plan, the truth about credit and retirement. According to MedTemps it is important that their workforce be equipped with information that will help them grow as employees as well as individuals who are responsible for the well-being of their families.

Stacey K facilitated the first Saturday workshop by giving in dept examples of how to use goal setting to better plan not only a better financial future but also the positive effect of goal setting across various aspects of an individual’s life. She got feedback from meeting participants of what some examples of short, medium- and long-term goals are and how to develop a plan to reach those goals. The group also discussed the process of developing a monthly budget. Ms. Stacey shared how keeping a written or electronic ledger of your income and expenditures can save you money long term. She also shared strategies to save money such as couponing and being honest with yourself about wants v needs.

RISE Foundation’s Sharon T intensely tackled the subject of credit during the workshop held on October 3rd. She went into detail about what credit is and the effects of the mismanagement of credit historically in the city of Memphis. She used her experience and colorful stories to illustrate to the participants how poor choices adversely effect your credit score. This effect can impact everything from interest rates for a home to employment opportunities. Ms. Sharon also spoke about retirement and how our choices as it relates to how we spend money in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s effect our ability to experience a financially sound retirement.  

Common Cents is a workplace financial education program, which offers area employers the opportunity to give hourly workers the gift of financial literacy and in doing so increase productivity, decrease absenteeism and create greater workforce productivity.   The curriculum features topics such as banking, budgeting and spending strategies, as well as debt management. 

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The RISE Foundation is proud to be apart of the Greater Memphis Financial Empowerment Center (GMFEC) which is a joint program in collaboration with the Shelby County Trustee's office. GMFEC is offering free financial counseling services to all Shelby County residents.  The demand for services has doubled in these uncertain times and now is being conducted remotely in response to COVID-19 precautions.  

Ms. B came to the GMFEC in March 2020.  She was referred to GMFEC by Meritan and requested financial counseling because she felt that she would be unable to fix her current financial situation alone.  So far, with the help of a financial counselor, she has been able to increase her credit score by almost 50 points, and reduce her delinquent accounts.  She states, “I am confident that I can change my current financial situation, because working with a financial counselor has helped me understand how credit works.”

Her experience has been very rewarding and she wants others to know that they never have to struggle with improving their credit, putting together a budget or getting access to resources that they need to improve their financial health.  She says that anyone who is curious about the GMFEC should not be afraid to ask for help.  “Everyone at the Center has been wonderful and willing to help, especially my financial counselor.  She has helped me increase my credit score, referred me to better job opportunities and helped me decrease my debt to free up more income for a savings plan.”

This is not the end of the road for Ms. B, as she has more financial goals that she would like to achieve.  She states, “I plan to continue working with my financial counselor for as long as she will have me.  I want to achieve more financial stability and secure better housing for my family.  I now have more confidence that I can achieve whatever financial goals I set for myself.”  

The Common Cents program at the RISE Foundation can be individualized to incorporate benefit programs like corporate employee assistance programs, financial wellness workshops for clients of nonprofit organizations or church congregations.  Access to the GMFEC is open to all Common Cents workplans. Your support helps the RISE Foundation to continue innovative programs like these that benefit youth, adults and seniors struggling to reach self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.  

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Common Cents
Common Cents

In these trying times people are searching for ways to better deal with their circumstances.  The church has always played an important role for those in need, and in Memphis there is one church that is uniquely meeting its congregation at their point of need.  Through financial literacy and education, Faith Christian Church is working with the RISE Foundation to make faith matter.

Church leaders identified financial literacy as an effort that the entire congregation could work on as a church body.  RISE conducted a Common Cents series in December 2019 and February 2020 for parishioners seeking to improve their knowledge of budgeting and how to teach credit to their families.

Everyone in attendance, including staff, were appreciative in learning how to better budget their finances, fill in money gaps, and how to recognize and change poor spending habits.

The series was facilitated by RISE on Saturday mornings and assignments were given.  The interactive series utilized in class and family-oriented assignments that sparked discussion and active participation.  Topics included banking, budgeting, debt management and spending strategies.  At the conclusion of the series participants surveyed responded that they had a better understanding of debt, how to improve their credit scores and how to increase their savings.

If you are interested in giving the gift of financial freedom to your organization, business or civic group contact RISE today for a free consultation at

Common Cents
Common Cents
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Organization Information

RISE Foundation, Inc.

Location: Memphis, TN - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @RISEmemphis
Project Leader:
Linda Williams
Memphis , Tennessee United States
$2,075 raised of $40,000 goal
24 donations
$37,925 to go
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