A larmed by what he saw as rampant financial illiteracy passing through his courtroom day in and day out, former U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John C. Ninfo decided he had to try to do something about it. In 1997, he began visiting classrooms to share stories of the devastating consequences of poor financial choices that he saw play out in personal bankruptcies in the Western District of New York and to teach young people about the responsible use of credit and the dangers of credit card abuse.
Ninfo eventually enlisted members of his local Bar Association to help in those efforts, leading to the founding of the nonprofit Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE), and embarked on a campaign to spread the word about the organization and the tremendous need for the educational services it provides. Today, CARE is a national nonprofit organization with chapters in 35 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Ninfo, who retired from the bench at the end of 2011, remains a member of CARE’s advisory board and continues to make presentations on behalf of CARE.
According to Tammy Hettinger, CARE’s executive director, the organization’s volunteers include bankruptcy judges and trustees, federal and state receivers, insolvency and fraud recovery lawyers, financial advisors, and members of the financial services industry. They give free presentations and share real-world examples at high schools, colleges, community youth organizations, and parents’ groups across the country to teach students how to manage their finances responsibly and avoid becoming victims of easy and deceptive credit traps and fraud scams.
Financially literate individuals make smarter decisions about saving, planning for retirement, investments, and other financial aspects of their lives, according to Hettinger. Beginning financial education at an early age can be critical to a young person’s long-term financial well-being.
“As a longtime member involved at the TMA Global and chapter levels, I know how much TMA encourages giving back,” said Sharon Kopman of SK2 Partners, a CARE board member and former TMA Executive Board member. “As a CARE volunteer, I can make a big impact on the lives of many young people by teaching them the importance of credit and how to protect themselves from getting in over their heads in debt. Financial literacy at a young age is key.”
Kopman of TMA Southern California is one of 12 TMA members who are members of CARE’s 23-person board. Alex Moglia of TMA Chicago/Midwest is another CARE board member.
“CARE is credit and fraud prevention education, plus we teach young people to be ethical and responsible,” he said.
Hettinger said CARE is committed to ensuring that all young people have access to the information they need to make smart decisions regarding money as they enter adulthood. She said those interested in supporting the organization’s mission can do so by volunteering, being a sponsor, or connecting CARE with schools and youth organizations in their communities. Learn more at care4yourfuture.org.