Yes, you read the title correctly, and no, I am not making this up. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been up to my ears in research on innovative approaches to serving underbanked communities. One of those innovative approaches is using sources of entertainment such as video games and television shows to deliver financial education to adults. Financial education is an important element to moving the underbanked into the financial mainstream because it address the information gap that can act as a barrier to greater use of mainstream financial services. But financial education is not always delivered in a way that is accessible or engaging to the underbanked community. Doorways to Dreams (D2D) has launched two financial education video games — Celebrity Calamity and Groove Nation — to reach out to the younger portion of the underbanked community. The games teach players lessons about credit card usage and the importance budgeting through a series of game related situations. But, the video game approach still requires the participant to take the initial step of seeking out financial education.
Nuestro Barrio, on the other hand, targets the Latino portion of the underbanked community that may not seek out financial education for various reasons. The Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina (CRA-UNC) designed the show in a way that would deliver targeted financial education to the Latino community without individuals having to seek it out from financial institutions or community organizations. Because the show is distributed through commercial television stations, the show and therefore the information is much more accessible. Over the course of 13 episodes, viewers learn about homeownership, credit, predatory lending, and financial services through the experiences of Latinos on the show. When I first read about the program, I wondered if it would really work. Could viewers attracted to a show for its entertainment value really learn and retain financial literacy from a telenovela? Research from the Center for Community Capital at UNC suggests it does work. Researchers found that the show was appealing to viewers, led to increased financial literacy, and induced behavioral change.
To read the full results of the Nuestro Barrio research from the Center for Community Capital click here.
To learn more about Nuestro Barrio click here.
For more information about Doorways to Dreams financial education games click here.