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This report will attempt to provide a new lens for understanding the cultural, historic, and economic factors that impact consumer choice in target communities of color. The key message highlighted throughout this paper is that for financial education efforts to be effective, they must be linked to changes in the economic and financial service context of low-income communities of color. Financial skill building must be linked to financial products and services that work to the benefit of low-income people. Some researchers and financial literacy proponents have begun to promote this idea; that financial awareness must be linked to financial literacy (basic skills) and education, but that this education must then be linked to reinforcement and transformation.

In addition, this paper strongly emphasizes the critical importance of developing an accurate profile of a program’s target audience (or market) before developing intervention strategies. The paper provides examples of how community-level practitioners and program managers have considered racial and ethnic dynamics and adapted mainstream strategies to their clientele. Please note that these examples are not meant to be best or replicable practices. They simply contain important insight, language, and perspective on ways to move the field forward and improve financial outcomes for economically isolated communities across the United States.