Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

News Release

Monday, April 07, 2008

Lyn Peters, Director of Communications, Department of Financial Institutions
PH (360) 902-8731 lpeters@dfi.wa.gov

Len Black, SIFE Coordinator, Heritage University
PH (509) 865-8561 black_l@heritage.edu

Interviews with Heritage SIFE President Erika Romero are available upon request for appointment. Contact Lyn Peters or Len Black for more information.


DFI Congratulates Heritage University SIFE Team For Top Honors At Regional Competition And Entry To Nationals

OLYMPIA - The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) is pleased to announce that one of our financial literacy outreach partners, the Heritage Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) team, took first place at the 2008 Regional SIFE competition April 2 in SeaTac. The team is now preparing for the SIFE USA National Exposition, May 13-15 in Chicago.

Taking on teams from University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Seward County Community College from Kansas, Oregon State University and Montana State University Northern, the team from Toppenish, WA wowed a panel of judges – proving that you don’t have to go to a big university to be smart about money or business. Many of their competitors packed the presentation room to watch the team from Toppenish.

“When the presentation was over, I could see that judges were very impressed with our work,” Heritage SIFE President Erika Romero said. “Just before the awards ceremony, many judges approached us to let us know that of all the presentations they saw, we were by far the best.”

“We were surprised and happy when we were called up on stage to receive the financial literacy individual competition award,” Romero continued. “Shortly after, we were announced as Champions for the fifth consecutive year.”

The team’s presentation “Change Begins With Us: Real Change In Real Time” (see attached PDF) outlines how their programs – impacting 6,205 people directly with more than 7,000 volunteer hours -- make a difference in their communities and how they meet the six core criteria for SIFE:

  1. Market Conditions: Heritage SIFE partnered with Universidad Autonoma Agraria Antonio Narro or UAAAN and started a micro-loan project consisting of growing and marketing organic vegetables and poultry to middle class consumers and businesses, creating a new source of income for 2,500 individuals. It provides an estimated economic impact of $400,000 in Saltillo, Mexico. This project has been adopted by three rotary clubs and has expanded to Central America.
  2. Success Skills: Heritage SIFE provided several opportunities for geographically isolated students and community members to actively engage in building their professional skills through workshops which include mock interviews, resume writing, dress for success, vocational orientation trips, and dinners that teach proper etiquette techniques. As a result, more than 200 students are more confident and better prepared for future job interviews.
  3. Entrepreneurship: Heritage SIFE worked with Radio Sol to create 12, 30-minute programs that aired weekly, targeted to new and established Hispanic business owners, emphasizing the importance of having a Business Plan, and tips on how to become successful entrepreneurs from Vancouver to Bellingham. The team’s “Successful Entrepreneurs” program in Yakima caught the interest of potential entrepreneurs in the Seattle area, and with support from The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, Heritage SIFE will be able to start a new entrepreneur this year in Seattle. The team now educates the majority of Hispanics in the State of Washington.
  4. Financial Literacy: Another tool Heritage SIFE used to educate people about financial literacy is their “Taller de Ayuda Financiera “ or Financial Management Workshop. In six years the team has taught adults and GED students in the Yakima Valley how the Credit System works. This year they expanded the program by adding the concepts of mortgage and refinancing houses by partnering with local consultants. Heritage SIFE used pre and post tests, as well as testimonials to measure the effectiveness of the program.
  5. Business Ethics: Heritage University’s SIFE team was one of six Universities nationwide chosen to increase the awareness and effectiveness of the Campbell’s Soup Labels for Education program. Heritage SIFE accepted the challenge and created a contest among five school districts in the Yakima Valley. An active media campaign and a partnership that includes the school districts, a local food bank, and three commercial radio/television networks all support this effort.
  6. Sustainability: The three components of Heritage SIFE’s model are Membership and Leadership Development, Information and Technology, and Internal and External Support.

Congratulations to the Heritage University SIFE Presentation Team:

Other SIFE project leaders were:

“DFI is proud to sponsor Heritage SIFE,” DFI Director Scott Jarvis said. “Their devotion to increasing financial literacy and making Washington a better place to live and work – starting with their own community – is an admirable goal DFI supports wholeheartedly.”

DFI wishes the team well and looks forward to supporting the group’s future financial literacy outreach programs and events.

For details on other financial education events during April — Financial Literacy Month and the partners conducting them, visit DFI’s Financial Literacy Blog “Money Talks” at http://finlit.blogspot.com/ or go to www.dfi.wa.gov/financial-education/calendar.htm to view the DFI Financial Literacy Outreach calendar.

About DFI
www.dfi.wa.gov ▪ 360.902-8700 ▪ 877.746-4334 ▪ In Espaņol 888.976.4422
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions regulates a variety of financial service providers such as banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers, consumer loan companies, payday lenders, and securities brokers and dealers. The department has won numerous awards for its financial literacy and outreach programs developed to protect consumers from financial fraud. In addition to posting information about licensees and administrative actions, the DFI’s Web site features consumer tips on a variety of financial fraud-related topics. For more financial education news, visit DFI’s Financial Literacy Blog “Money Talks” at http://finlit.blogspot.com/.

About Heritage
Heritage University is a non-profit, independent, non-denominational accredited institution of higher education offering undergraduate and graduate education. Its mission is to provide quality, accessible higher education to multicultural populations which have been educationally isolated. The Heritage University SIFE team has been active for four years. We currently have 45 members, of which 67% are business majors. The other 33% of our membership is drawn from other majors, including Psychology, English, Social Work, Engineering, and Education. During the past four years, the Heritage SIFE team has assisted the community by sponsoring and/or participating in numerous projects, seminars, and internships. For example, during the 2004 - 2005 academic year, we contributed 5136 man-hours to 24 projects and programs that impacted approximately 4,750 people. Our positive impact on our local community is evidenced by our recent successes in regional SIFE competitions; our team was first runner up in 2003 we were regional champions in 2004 and 2005.

About SIFE
SIFE is a nonprofit organization that gives students the tools to learn the free enterprise system in a real working situation. SIFE challenges students on more than 800 college campuses nationwide to take what they're learning in the classroom and use their knowledge to better their communities.