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Building community through financial literacy

Dec 05, 2017

Syncrude employees have a long history of volunteerism and sharing their skills, talents and energy with community organizations. Jay Falcone is one of them.

A senior leader of Pensions and Benefits, he’s used his career and accounting experience to volunteer with the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo teaching financial literacy courses every week. Lessons are geared toward helping new Canadians build skills in banking, income taxes and investments.

“Financial education and literacy is the sort of thing you can use in your everyday life. But for people moving here from across the world and learning a new culture, they’re navigating all the financial differences, too. And that can be stressful,” says Jay, who has taught more than 200 new Canadians over his four years as a volunteer for the association.

The first level is an eight-week program he developed that provides skills related to banking, income taxes, and investments. A second level uses guest speakers, real estate agents, and insurance brokers to expand on the concepts introduced in Level One including types of investments, how to pick stocks, how to evaluate private investments, real estate, network and internet marketing.

“I get a lot of satisfaction from hearing the comments at the end of the eight weeks. There’s a survey that asks them, ‘Where do you think you are on financial literacy scale’ and most select 2. At the end they’re choosing 8 or 9 and that means they’re learning something and hopefully developing habits that they're going to keep,” says Jay.

His students range from homemakers to entrepreneurs and engineers. Some have gone on to operate their own businesses or get into the financial services industry. Mainly, they come out of the program with the knowledge to take control of their finances.

“I’ve been here for 33 years and both Syncrude and Fort McMurray have been good to me and my family,” says Jay. “This experience is an opportunity to give something back. It helps individuals get the tools and skills to succeed, and if they're successful and contributing to the community, that helps the whole community.”

Syncrude supports employees who volunteer and make vital contributions to their communities. Employee Volunteer Grants are available to not-for-profit organizations where employees volunteer a minimum of 40 hours per year. Busing grants and Employee Education grants are also available.