By the Rev. Margot Perez-Greene, Ph.D, and Christina Rhodes, MPA
Associate Dean of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid/Literacy Coordinator
The financial well-being of students is important, whether they’re fresh out of undergraduate school, a long-time pastor, paying for seminary, or carrying credit card debt. The Perkins Financial Literacy Program (FLP) serves to empower students to make wise financial decisions, provide fully transparent information about the cost of a theological education, and connect students to financial resources so they can effectively take charge of their own financial path through graduate school and beyond.
Since the fall of 2017, the Coordinators of Financial Aid and Financial Literacy have partnered to educate incoming and current students about personal financial health and well-being, a program funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. and implemented at Perkins since 2016. Starting in January of 2020, Christina Rhodes added a greater leadership role in the program. Though the goal of the grant has not changed, (minimizing stress, shame and guilt about debt, within a hospitable environment), activities are monitored and reimagined annually to serve the needs of as many students as possible.
This fall, a small group of new students are participating in a book study using Saving Grace: A Guide to Financial Well Being, a six-week, faith-based money management curriculum for congregational or clergy groups. Using the expertise of United Methodist leaders across the connection through videos, a workbook, and devotional materials, it provides the text and tools needed to address the topics of saving, earning, giving, spending and debt. Currently, we are the only UMC-related theological school providing this opportunity.
Last month, FLP hosted Perkins executive board member Sara Pantin. Having been in the financial services business for over 30 years, Sara has a wealth of experience. She has moved through many roles including agent, sales manager, senior executive, co-founder and managing partner, to now partner emeritus of Asset Strategies Group, LLC. Sara provided Perkins students with saving and budgeting techniques and tools to help them in their everyday lives.
We would like to invite you to join us on Wednesday, November 10, 11:30 a.m. as FLP sponsors a virtual Perkins Community Worship. This special service will be led by current students, and a fiscally minded sermon will be provided by Perkins alumna Shandon Klein. Shandon currently serves on staff at First United Methodist Church Richardson and is a student in the Graduate Program in Religious Studies (GPRS) at Southern Methodist University.
For sustainability of the program (our grant year ends December 31, 2021), we are researching and discovering materials that will lend support to our students in financial health and well-being and that can be delivered via the newsletter, e-news and Web resource page. We remain committed to the goal of the ECFFM initiative, and the support of the Lilly Foundation that has taught us immeasurably how we can affect financial well-being for our students. Feedback from participants (students, staff, and faculty) maintains our steadfast conviction that this work is relevant and significant.
Margot and Christina
 Margot Perez-Greene serves as Principal Investigator for the Lilly Grant.