RCE Program Wins National Award for Financial Literacy Education

Barbara O’Neill (right) and Leslie Linfield, executive director of the Institute For Financial Literacy at the EIFLEawards ceremony.

Small Steps to Health and Wealth™, a national Cooperative Extension program developed by Rutgers educators to motivate Americans to take action to improve both their health and personal finances, has been recognized as the Adult Education Program of the Year for Money Management by the Institute for Financial Literacy.

The SSHW program, created by Barbara O’Neill, financial resource management specialist for Rutgers Cooperative Extension and Karen Ensle, a family and community health sciences educator and department chair, RCE of Union County, was recognized with a 2013 EIFLE Excellence in Financial Literacy Education award on April 3. The national award was created seven years ago by the institute to acknowledge innovation, dedication and a strong commitment to financial literacy education.

Barbara O’Neill and Karen Ensle at a promotion event for SSHW.

“I was honored to accept the EIFLE Award on behalf of all Cooperative Extension educators nationwide who are delivering the Small Steps to Health and Wealth (SSHW) program that Karen and I created at Rutgers University and is now a signature program of the Cooperative Extension System,” said O’Neill.

The SSHW program, which also has a book of the same name published by PALS Publishing, encourages participants to simultaneously improve their health and personal finances. It is one of only a handful of programs that integrates both areas of people’s lives, said O’Neill, who was on hand to accept the EIFLE Award. In her acceptance speech at the institute’s Annual Conference on Financial Education in Orlando, Fla, O’Neill borrowed a quote attributed to Virgil more than 2,000 years ago, “The greatest wealth is health.”

“The recent recession and continued economic uncertainty has exposed an urgent need for effective financial literacy education,” said Leslie E. Linfield, executive director and founder of the institute.

“This year’s EIFLE Award winners have distinguished themselves from their peers in working to curb financial illiteracy and facilitate a greater understanding of the important role financial awareness plays in building stronger, more financially-secure communities,” added Linfield.

For more, visit the Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ program website.