Economically vulnerable individuals and families have traditionally been told that their financial situation is a direct product of the effort they put forth. However, when comprehensive financial education services are not readily available to low-income families, there exists few opportunities to achieve lasting economic prosperity. Sarah Dlugolecki, a Financial Education Specialist, wants her clients to realize that mistakes are a part of life and, with the right tools, they can correct the past and create a new future. She strives to help others build this financial stability through her work with Prosperity Connection
Sarah, a graduate of the Washington University Brown School of Social Work, joined the Prosperity Connection team in 2014 as a financial education specialist, dedicated to serving residents of the City of St. Louis. Her warm personality provides clients with a comfortable environment to candidly share their financial difficulties and assess how they can be overcome. “Every time I teach, I set a norm that [the class] is more of a conversation than a lecture.”
This approach provides her clients with the best outcomes and the ability to get the most of their experience. “I hope that folks walk away from classes feeling like they can trust Prosperity Connection; that they can feel safe with us. We don’t judge. We are there to love, to appreciate, to guide and to be the cheerleaders.”
Sarah teaches a variety of classes including credit, predatory lending, family finance, and many others. While she recognizes it’s not everyone’s favorite topic, Sarah especially enjoys teaching credit classes because good credit is crucial to financial well being. “I want to help folks who aren’t very trusting of the credit system to take best advantage and move forward so that they can achieve goals they set for themselves and their family.” She loves to show clients ways to improve their credit scores and what steps they can take to correct any errors on their report.
Sarah recalled a time when an ecstatic client from a partner organization, Kingdom House, shared good news about her credit report. Sarah explained that there was a significant amount of incorrect information on the client’s credit report, which negatively impacted the individual’s score. The client and Sarah worked closely to correct these mistakes by crafting dispute letters and setting reasonable goals to get her back on track. When the client realized that her actions had led to positive changes to her credit report, “She charged through Kingdom House” said Sarah, showing off her new and much improved credit score.
Sarah encourages all Prosperity Connection participants to be changemakers, both in their personal lives and in the community. “I want people to have every piece of knowledge that it takes for them to get to where they want to be.” Along with direct money management education, Sarah believes that community advocacy and engagement are necessary components to effective financial education interventions. “I want people to feel empowered to speak out against predatory lending, unfair salaries, unfair medical and student loan debt, and bad businesses.” By taking control of personal household finances and getting involved in community issues, clients can be a part of community-wide efforts to make a better city and region for all.