Banker Tory Schalkle Wants to Make Finances More Inclusive and Navigable – Inter Press Service
Tory Schalkle loves talking about all things banking, credit scores, budgeting, and personal finance. “Those things work for me because they were made for people like me,” he says. Tory Schalkle, a banker from Wayzata (Minnesota), said it became painfully obvious that although the system worked for him, it didn’t work for many others. “It’s precisely those who need the most financial or job assistance – often due to financial ignorance, prior decisions, poor credit documentation, etc. – who face both a financial system not well-suited for them and a misunderstanding of that system,” Schalkle explains. “And many of those institutions have no incentives to help this population because they’re often poor. So the system often doesn’t work for them, and no one is incentivized to help.”
“We’re trying to stop self-perpetuating cycles that keeps people out of the system and in poverty, such as damaged credit disqualifying someone for the credit card needed to improve their credit, or someone whose prior employment gap disqualifies them from a job needed to end that employment gap,” Schalkle explains.
To address this, Tory Schalkle and his wife started Firm Footing – a non-profit that provides training and tools for those often left out of the financial system. “We started with a focus on the formerly incarcerated because it was the largest at-risk population impacted by this, and there was no organization focused on this topic for that population.” Over 100 million Americans have a criminal record yet, as a University of Arkansas study found, “there is no national program or organization designed to promote financial literacy programs for the incarcerated” despite what the Journal of Correctional Education calls a “glaring need for offender financial education… and the definite need to continue educating offenders in financial literacy. This focus on financial education may be the key to reducing America’s prison population.”
“Those who commit crimes out of desperation often don’t have a great/easy/known way of getting out of that cycle. Preventing a former offender from getting into that financial desperation is a crime prevented and a life rebuilt,” Schalkle says.
To get started, Tory Schalkle interviewed formerly incarcerated individuals and the non-profits that served them to understand their frustration points with the current system, as well as HR and financial executives responsible for deciding whom corporations hire and lend to. From there Schalkle worked with another state’s Department of Banking to provide a curriculum tailored to this …….
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