To Help Jail Clients Gain Financial Freedom

Sarah Butler shares her expertise in financial education with clients at the Dakota County Jail

University of Minnesota Extension’s Center for Family Development has a reputation for helping families and communities in all corners of the state and from all walks of life. Now a new program has Extension educator Sarah Butler sharing her expertise with clients at the Dakota County Jail.

The Community Mentorship for Financial Capability is a long-term partnership between the center and the Minnesota Council on Economic Education. It took shape when the jail contacted U of M Extension looking for help on starting a financial education course. 

Sarah Butler Sarah Butler, Financial Empowerment Educator, Center for Family Development

University of Minnesota Extension

Most county jails in Minnesota do not offer substantial programming for their clients, but Dakota County Jail is an exception, says Butler. It offers GED/adult basic education classes, as well as programming on college success, parenting, religious/spiritual guidance, job readiness, domestic abuse prevention, and etiquette, among others.

“Now, with the addition of financial education, clients can address issues with debt, credit, budgeting, financial behavior change, and creating healthy financial habits,” says Butler.

“I love helping people discover within themselves the power to change their financial situations and to meet their goals.”

She mentored staff at the jail and co-taught with them until they felt confident enough to teach the classes on their own. Currently the program has eight 90-minute sessions, but clients are asking for more classes—or longer sessions.

Which is music to Butler’s ears.  “As an educator, I've never had a more attentive audience to teach,” she says. “They are truly hungry for the information.”

Soon she will provide one-on-one financial education with clients, who are now able to view their credit reports and scores.

Says Butler: “I love helping people discover within themselves the power to change their financial situations and to meet their goals.”