The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds recently received a 2021 Governor’s Financial Literacy Award for its pilot financial wellness program, Wisconsin Strong: Your Financial Security™. The program was selected by the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and Capability for successfully meeting the following criteria:
- Innovative implementation of an effective financial literacy and capability program
- Emphasis on financial inclusion
- Demonstrated measurable results
- Collaboration with partners
- Scalability of the program design
The Wisconsin Strong program provides targeted and online education, resources, and tools to help the state’s 475,000 government employees and retirees maximize their Wisconsin Retirement System benefits, grow their financial knowledge, and achieve their personal financial goals. The program is also available to the families of employees and retirees.
“Wisconsin Strong takes a holistic approach to educating and empowering individuals to have financial wellness at any age and to prepare for a secure retirement,” said Tarna Hunter, ETF Director of Strategic Engagement and Government Relations.
The COVID-19 pandemic shifted outreach and education from in-person to all virtual. During an eight-month campaign period in 2021, the Wisconsin Strong program achieved significant outcomes.
- Engaging. The program’s more than 18,300 participants completed online financial health self-assessments, personalized and interactive courses, and webinars. More than 200 individuals took steps to reduce their college debt and 401 new college savings accounts were started.
- Behavior-changing. Survey results indicate changes in participants’ behaviors. For example, 29% of participants reported they created or reviewed their budgets or spending plans; 27% created or reviewed a financial plan; 21% checked their credit or made a positive change to improve their credit; and 21% started or added money to an emergency fund.
- Satisfying. The program received a 3.9 average satisfaction rating (on a five-point scale) among participants surveyed. In addition, 86% said the program fit easily within their workweek and personal life.
MissionSquare Research Institute (formerly the Center for State and Local Government Excellence) featured the Wisconsin Strong program in its report, Innovative Public Sector Employee Financial Wellness Programs. The report highlights the program’s outreach and education, metrics, and lessons learned.
Champions and Partners
The Wisconsin Strong program gained 51 Wisconsin Retirement System employer champions that committed to supporting their employees’ financial wellness. Employers, such as the Department of Natural Resources, Bayfield School District, Taylor County, City of Ashland, and University of Wisconsin-Platteville, had access to a toolkit of communication resources. See Wisconsin Strong Champions.
Wisconsin Strong partners, such as the Financial Fitness Group, the Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program, Summit Credit Union, Savi, Edvest, and the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, enhanced the program’s financial wellness educational offerings. See Wisconsin Strong Partners.
This pilot financial wellness program concludes at the end of February 2022. Inquiries about the program can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.