The core of WISER’s work is the direct impact we have on tens of thousands of women each year. Through strategic partnerships, WISER reaches women across the country via workshops, trainings, print and electronic materials, and website.
WISER’s local and national projects and partnerships:
MANA – A National Latina Organization
For more than 20 years, WISER has partnered with MANA to educate Latinas and their families about the financial challenges they face in retirement and provide the tools and resources they need to help secure their financial futures. MANA empowers Latinas through leadership development, community service, and advocacy. Each year, WISER conducts a training workshop at MANA’s Latina Leadership Institute, training hundreds of MANA chapter leaders to date through our “Latinas and Financial Planning” workshop curriculum, which includes topics such as claiming Social Security Benefits, “What to Do ‘When Life Happens’” and Issues Impacting Women During Divorce and Widowhood. The tools and resources WISER provides are then used to host local workshops and events with their own chapter members and communities across the country. Learn more about MANA at hermana.org.
BENEFIT U – Portable Benefit Solutions: Financial, Health & Retirement
WISER launched the Benefit U Project with independent workers and small business owners in West Virginia in order to help them overcome a major barrier to achieving financial security, namely a lack of employment-related benefits. The project was supported by a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative and conducted as part of WISER’s Rural Retirement Project. The Benefit U project interviewed independent workers to learn more about their unique financial challenges and what products and services would meet their needs. Then it tested a financial technology (fintech) platform that provided many of these resources in order to gauge the feasibility of meeting those needs with an online tool. The Benefit U project sheds new light on the barriers independent workers face in accessing financial, health and retirement benefits and offers additional insights into helping this growing sector of the workforce establish long-term financial security.
Benefit U – Portable Benefit Solutions: Financial, Health & Retirement
A Project Summary Report, published September 2020
The Latina Savings Project
The Latina Savings Project was designed to encourage and facilitate savings among low- and moderate-income Latinas. From 2017-2019, the project was conducted in four cities across the U.S. – Albuquerque, New Mexico; Baytown, Texas; Fort Worth, Texas; and Topeka, Kansas. The program focused on helping participants understand their own finances; then overcome barriers to saving, develop achievable savings goals, and open a savings account and begin saving. The project is a collaboration between WISER and MANA, a National Latina Organization, and funded with support from AARP Foundation.
For more information on the project and results, download the reports:
Latina Retirement Savings Project: Evaluation Report
This report provides a complete data analysis and evaluation, published September 2019.
The Latina Savings Project
A Project Summary Report, published October 2019
Appalachian Savings Project
In West Virginia, the second most rural state in the U.S., women have the lowest workforce participation in the country, compounding the problems during their retirement years. Since 2003, WISER has been experimenting with innovative grassroots efforts to address this issue through its Rural Retirement Project. Between 2012 and 2015, WISER’s Rural Retirement Project conducted the Appalachian Savings Project with self-employed childcare workers in Appalachian Ohio and West Virginia. The project demonstrates that low- and moderate-income workers interested in saving can accumulate significant savings, especially when there is a low-dollar, easily accessible savings vehicle, combined with a matched incentive to save. This project focused on childcare workers in the Appalachian regions of Ohio and West Virginia. Childcare workers–many of whom are self-employed–are among the lowest paid wage earners in the United States. Participants’ total savings including the match averaged $1,150, estimated to be 5.5% of their average annual incomes. The project design can be used in other work sectors with high concentrations of self-employed and entrepreneurial workers, as well as promoted in lower-wage service sectors where retirement benefits are not offered, such as home-care and other service work.
For more information on the Appalachian Savings Project, download the reports:
Savings Matches, Small Dollar Accounts, and Childcare Workers’ Decisions to Save: 2012-2015 Appalachian Savings Project (December 2015)
Report Brief (4 Pages)
Creating Opportunity: The Impact of Matched Savings for Childcare Workers (March 2016)
A Summary Report of WISER’s Appalachian Savings Project
NPR also featured the Appalachian Savings Project on its program, All Things Considered. Listen to the story.
The iOme (I OWE ME) Challenge is a national student competition that works to raise awareness about the impact of financial security on the social and economic well-being of our society. More specifically, the competition encourages students to challenge status quo thinking about the current state of retirement and propose viable policy recommendations. Since 2009, the iOme Challenge has asked college students to imagine what America and the world will look like 40 years from now, understand and talk about the issues at hand, and identify what action are needed today so that all generations may have a bright financial future. Student teams from across the country respond to the annual iOme Challenge question in the form of a 5,000-word essay. The team wins a cash prize and is invited to Washington, DC to present its submission at a symposium and discuss it with public policymakers. In 2016, the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) took on the management of the iOme Challenge, and continues to expand its reach and impact. Learn more at iomechallenge.org.
Freddie Mac and WISER in partnership with MANA, A National Latina Organization are collaborating on the Savings Project for Latina and Native American Women. This project builds upon WISER’s Latina Retirement Savings Account Project and is working to promote a savings habit for low and moderate income Latina and Native American Women, while developing achievable savings goals through the use of low-cost savings alternatives. The project also incorporates a financial education component to help Latinas and Native American women understand the barriers they face when saving and how to overcome financial challenges. WISER has also developed basic money management workshops and easily accessible materials targeted for lower-income participants that incorporate Freddie Mac’s CreditSmart curriculum.
Mothers Voices Georgia
WISER and Mothers Voices Georgia developed the financial literacy program, Smart Women and Money, which has been presented throughout the state of Georgia and beyond for more than 15 years. Led by WISER’s Community Educator and Trainer based in Atlanta, the program has educated thousands of primarily older, African-American women and seniors on topics such as “How to Plan for a Secure Retirement,” “Black Women and Money,” and “Protecting Your Assets from Frauds and Scams.” The program has been presented at numerous conferences, libraries, senior centers, community events and churches. Examples include: National Conference of Black Mayors, Spelman College, Goodwill Industries of Atlanta, National Congress of Black Women Atlanta Chapter, Lou Walker Senior Center, Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., Women’s Employment Opportunity Project, Inc., and more.
Montana Women’s Financial Education
In 2013, WISER helped develop an “Introduction to Investing for Women” course that has already reached more than 200 women across the rural state of Montana. Taught by a trainer based in Missoula, this course focuses on the basics of personal financial management and provides an introduction to personal investing and planning for retirement. The course, offered in 2 and 4-week formats, has been taught throughout Montana, including courses Bozeman, Missoula, and Helena.
American Council of Life Insurers
Working together, WISER and ACLI have continued to bring the issue of lifetime income and long-term care to the forefront of discussions about women achieving retirement security. ACLI has been a steadfast partner in WISER’s policy symposia and has co-hosted the annual iOme Challenge Forum with WISER that bring together policymakers, industry leaders, and other key partners.
National Adult Protective Services Association
Cases of elder financial abuse has increased in the U.S. and WISER and NAPSA have been on the forefront of educating NAPSA’s network and the broader community about what elder financial abuse is, how to prevent and detect it, and what to do if you, or someone you know, is a victim. Together we have trained Adult Protective Services and other Aging Network leaders on this topic, developed workshop toolkits and published educational materials, including an 8-part series of guides on different types of financial frauds and scams, ways to prevent them, and resources for victims. Learn more about NAPSA at napsa-now.org.
Nurses’ Investor Education Project
The Nurses’ Investor Education Project was a multi-year, joint partnership between WISER and the Center for American Nurses (now part of the American Nurses Association), funded by a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, to identify nurses’ specific financial information needs and provide them with tools to help them successfully manage and build their wealth into retirement. The Project worked with state nurse associations to train nurse leaders, conduct peer-to-peer financial education workshops, and provide no-strings-attached, straight-forward information and resources that can be easily accessed by nurses across the country. More than 800 nurses directly participated in the workshops, with thousands more reached through our print and media resources. In 2012, WISER released the final project report, Changing Investment and Savings Behavior of Nurses: The Nurses Investor Education Project. Additional project resources include:
Retirement Planning Resources for Nurses
The Busy Nurse’s Guide to Financial Planning (booklet, revised 2015)
The Busy Nurse’s Financial Planning Workbook (revised 2017)
Nurses’ Retirement Decision Making Guide (published 2009)
Nurse Investor Education Survey
In 2008, and with a follow-up in 2009, the Nurses’ Investor Education Project conducted a survey to assess nurses’ attitudes toward, preparation for, and knowledge concerning investing for retirement. The survey revealed that nurses may be saving for retirement, but few are planning and investing to meet retirement needs. The final survey report, Nurses Investor Education Survey, was published September 2009.