The Wisconsin Strong: Your Financial Security™ pilot financial wellness program was conducted March 2021 through February 2022. The holistic program was designed to empower government employees and retirees to maximize their Wisconsin Retirement System benefits, save for the future, and achieve financial wellness at any age.
WRS members and their families had free access to targeted and interactive online education, resources, and tools. Debt management, budgeting, investments, estate planning, retirement planning, the financial impact of caregiving, and other finance-related topics were covered.
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Questions? Please send inquiries about the Wisconsin Strong program to email@example.com.
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.
The Wisconsin Strong program gained 51 Wisconsin Retirement System employer champions who 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 Financial Fitness Group, Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program, Summit Credit Union, Savi, Edvest, and Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, enhanced the program’s financial wellness educational offerings. See Wisconsin Strong Partners.
The Wisconsin Strong program was selected as one of five national case studies by MissionSquare Research Institute (formerly the Center for State and Local Government Excellence) in its report, Case Studies of Innovative Public Sector Employee Financial Wellness Programs. The report highlights the program’s outreach and education, metrics, and lessons learned.
The Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and Capability selected the Wisconsin Strong program for a 2021 Governor’s Financial Literacy Award based on 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 was also cited in two proclamations by Gov. Tony Evers, including October 2021 as National Retirement Security Month and April 2021 as Financial Literacy and Capability Month in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds and the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions received a one-year, $100,000 grant to establish or improve a public employee financial wellness program. ETF developed and implemented the Wisconsin Strong: Your Financial Security™ financial wellness program for Wisconsin Retirement System employees, retirees, and their families.
The grant was sponsored by MissionSquare Research Institute (formerly the Center for State and Local Government Excellence), the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, the National Association of State Treasurers Foundation, with funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation.