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FENNS: Embracing the power of partnerships to financially empower Nova Scotians

31 July 2019
By: Jenny Benson Pratt, Chair, FENNS 

While still in its early days, the Financial Empowerment Network of Nova Scotia (FENNS) is already a testament to the power of partnerships.  
Established in October 2018, FENNS is working to raise the levels of financial empowerment (FE) and financial literacy (FL) across the province. The network is bringing together organizations that are working to increase FE and FL as well as organizations whose work is impacted by a lack of FE and FL. These organizations represent a broad spectrum of public, private and non-profit sectors.   
Individually the organizations that make up FENNS have their own mandates but collectively FENNS is working together to:   
1. Make existing financial resources more accessible  
2. Identifying gaps related to FE and FL throughout the province  
3. Cross-promote resources, events and programs 
4. Share best practices  
5. Consider complex issues in this area  
The need for this network to be established was made clear at our inaugural meeting when, within 10 minutes of the meeting starting, network partners were already discovering and discussing new ways to collaborate to the benefit of Nova Scotians.  
Our 26 network partners have worked together to promote Financial Literacy Month. Initiatives included 5,300 students being reached by Junior Achievement Nova Scotia, 284 piggy banks being handed out to grade four students from Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. and the YWCA Halifax reaching 98 newcomers in 13 communities to talk about FL basics.
During tax time FENNS partners collaborated to successfully participate in Super Clinics across the province hosted by the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). These five clinics allowed Nova Scotians to access multiple services at the same time including filing income tax returns with CVITP, signing up for Canada Learning Bond (CLB), signing up for Social Insurance Numbers and receiving information on Consumer Protection and Fraud Prevention. CLB is a very under-utilized program in our province. The Super Clinics registered approximately 750 eligible Nova Scotian children to receive the CLB, an investment of $1.5M in postsecondary education. 
As FENNS begins conversations about Financial Literacy Month 2019 and starts to examine the behavioural aspects of FE and FL as a network, the strong engagement and collaborative energy being brought to the table is undeniable. The group is looking forward to seeing what it can accomplish through the power of partnerships in year two.   
Jenny Benson Pratt, FENNS