The beginning – 2010
Shawn Young, founder of the Financial Health Institute, began delivering life skills classes in 2005 while working in retail management. In 2007, Mr. Young started a nonprofit organization, Advocates for Young Adults, focused on providing life skills education, including financial literacy, to low-income and underserved individuals.
After recognizing a significant missing component to financial education for people experiencing economic stress or trauma and other vulnerable populations, in 2008, Mr. Young set about creating an educational curriculum that accounted for financial and economic stress and that also blended healthcare education and financial education, but focused primarily on financial behavior modification. This new curriculum, titled “Bootstraps Asset Building Education” and its behavior modification approach was rapidly successful and has since been adopted by hundreds of nonprofit organizations and human service agencies as their primary financial education program.
In 2010, due to the success with the clients of these organizations and agencies, Mr. Young began receiving requests to provide “Bootstraps” to their employees and again found the information to be very applicable and effective. By 2011, employees of these nonprofit organizations and human service agencies began asking for Mr. Young to provide the class to their friends, spouses and other family members, with participants whose income ranged from $0 to $150,000 – again the program was well received and successful, regardless of income range or socioeconomic status.
In 2011, Mr. Young began noticing the intense amount of stress in people’s financial lives and he began investigating the ramifications of that stress. This investigation led to the newly developed educational model that focuses on behavior modification around finances. Specifically this educational model takes a systematic look at the link between a person’s financial stress, the impact of that stress on other behaviors in their life and how those behaviors impact or increase the likelihood of chronic diseases.
As a result, in 2012, the Financial Health Institute redefined the concept of Financial Health to be more in line with the World Health Organization’s definition of health and subsequently began offering additional programs and services around the concept of Financial Health.
In 2013-2015, FHI increased its catalog of courses, seminars and topics that would culminate in the development of the “Personal Economics Program,” a 12-week comprehensive educational program including courses in: Foundation in Financial Health; More Than a Job; Benefits and Housing Exploration; and Health Literacy. Each course contains 12 – 24 hours of content and 6 – 12 hours of directed assignments so participants are able implement what they have learned. In 2016, this program was awarded the Right On the Money Award from the Consumers United Association.
During this time, FHI also created a professional development training for case managers and other staff within human services. Our first version was called “Financial Health for Case Managers.” This program has been massively successful, and later retitled “Frameworks in Financial Health.”
2016 – 2019
Continuing our journey into professional development and dipping our toes into organizational development, in 2016, FHI created the Symposium on Scarcity. The SOS was a two day event that looked at the impact of organizational scarcity on organizational performance and client outcomes.
2017 was a big year for FHI as we developed a process to better ensure effectiveness and efficiency of training programs that we call “Integrated Learning.” Integrated Learning is accomplished by supporting learners over an extended period of time with multiple touch points and learning styles to provide the most impactful and effective learning opportunity. We utilize live trainings blended with technology, online classes, videos, and coaching to enhance the participant’s experience so they can better retain and implement what they have learned in their job and personal life. (Learn more about Integrated Learning Systems and Programs here). During this period, FHI began investing heavily in the development of online trainings that could either stand alone or provide support for our live trainings. The adoption of this technology has allowed us to better track client participation and outcomes and also the ability to report out the data to organizations that utilize our services. During this time, FHI became one of the few training organizations in the US with the ability to track long-term training outcomes.
In 2018, The Financial Health Institute created a nonprofit organization called the Financial Health Lab in order to provide our services to a wider range of participants and to work with foundations and other charitable organizations. We also launched the Certificate Program and began a collaboration with mPowered on a financial coaching curriculum.
In 2019, The Financial Health Institute launched The Leadership Academy, a program dedicated to leading the field in adult learning, learning technology and learning evaluation for health and human services professionals in order to create a culture of efficiency, effectiveness and empathy.
2019 FHI in partnership with The Center for Applied Management Practices launched the Denver Metro Community Action Network. This project is a collaboration among eight organizations throughout the Denver Metro community.
Over the past 13 years, FHI has served people and organizations across the United States, helping thousands of people and organizations. We look forward to sharing the next steps of our journey with you… so stay tuned!