December 14, 2022, Ottawa
Born out of a collaborative movement of community organizations and individuals, the Financial Literacy Action Network Ottawa (FLANO) – one of the first in Canada – is celebrating ten years of contributing to the development of financial literacy among vulnerable populations.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” says Hélène Ménard, former Director of the EBO Financial Education Centre and one of the founding members of FLANO. For her, the creation of such a network in 2012 was natural, as it not only met the needs of the vulnerable population but also served to rally organizations around a cause that motivated them all.
“Several financial literacy initiatives already existed but they were competing for the same funds,” she recounts, “so we decided to join forces.” The goal was simple: to share information among members and encourage collaboration among organizations with an interest in financial literacy, “so that our clients benefit from all of our expertise,” she says.
Cross-sectoral in nature, FLANO brings together Ottawa-based members working in areas as diverse as mental health, finance, newcomer integration, homelessness, for people of all ages, races and religions. A group of ten founding members has expanded to more than forty members. “At our meetings, FLANO also brings in key players who bring essential resources and knowledge to the table,” adds Ms. Ménard.
With a dedicated focus on community from the beginning, FLANO also established itself in a national strategy for financial literacy development when it joined Prosper Canada’s ABLE community of practice, and positioned itself as an active network within the national “network of networks” hosted by the FCAC/ACFC.
The hallmarks of FLANO projects are service to the Ottawa community and collaboration among members that strengthen and expand our capacity to ensure financial health among Ottawa’s most vulnerable populations. FLANO has established financial literacy as a core objective in upskilling, employment, mental health, housing and retirement programming. It is a key factor of client success. Examples of collaborative FLANO initiatives are ASCENT for financial fitness and inclusion, TrainUP£, Financial Inclusion and Strength in Numbers.
In addition to meetings and collaborative projects, FLANO celebrates Financial Literacy Month every November. Highlights include Alterna Bank celebrations to provide annual platform to share the network’s accomplishments. In 2019, former Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson joined the celebration to proclaim Financial Empowerment Day, and in 2013 he proclaimed Financial Literacy Day. The network remains very active, meeting every two months to share updates on issues affecting vulnerable populations, and discuss projects that members are collaborating on as well as funding opportunities.
“My pride is that we have been able to create a network without competition, keep it alive with very limited resources and give visibility to its members, for the greater benefit of those who need us,” summarizes Ms. Ménard.
FLANO-EBO Financial Education Centre
300 Olmstead Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1L 7K1