Amid news of Congress declaring April "Financial Literacy Month," the M.
Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program -- a flagship collaboration between
the Boston Bar Association and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of
Massachusetts -- this month celebrates its seventh year of providing high school
students with a four session program designed to help them make smart choices
about credit and avoid bankruptcy.
"We don't want people to be our customers," says U.S. Bankruptcy Judge and
President-Elect of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges Joan N. Feeney.
"We want to help them avoid financial trouble."
Since the program began in 2005, co-chairs Judge Feeney and Boston
bankruptcy attorney Janet Bostwick quickly recruited volunteer lawyers to go
into the classrooms for the first three sessions and then stage a mock "relief
from stay hearing" for the final session, held at the Bankruptcy Court. Dubbed
the "consequences session," the trip to Bankruptcy Court is designed to teach
students exactly what happens when an individual goes through a consumer
First piloted at a Boston Public high school in Dorchester, MA, the M. Ellen
Carpenter Financial Literacy Program has reached more than 49 schools throughout
Massachusetts and some 1500 students. One of the first in the nation programs of
its type, the program has twice been profiled in The Boston Globe, and was
highlighted at a National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges. Since the program
began, more than 385 lawyers have volunteered to teach the classes.
"Long after Financial Literacy Month is over, we will be planning for the
financial literacy program we teach the high school students participating in
the Summer Jobs/Enrichment Program the BBA conducts in partnership with the
Boston Public Schools," said Bostwick. "In addition, we are in the process of
updating our curriculum to ensure that it reflects current consumer habits and
The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy receives funding from the Charles
P. Normandin Fund of the Boston Bar Foundation.