Freddie Mac

Going Beyond Financial Literacy to Create Financial Capability

Going Beyond Financial Literacy to Create Financial Capability

A Pakistani American, Maheen Qureshi, a Freddie Mac housing outreach manager, grew up in different countries across Asia—Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines and Indonesia — before moving to the United States to attend college. In 2004, Maheen joined Freddie Mac in the mission oversight division. A year and a half later, she moved to corporate relations and housing outreach, where she began working with communities of color, housing counselors and nonprofit organizations.

"The mission is what keeps me at Freddie Mac," she says. "I like to be at the intersection of our mission in business and finance worlds."

As an immigrant, Maheen has seen and experienced firsthand the challenges in underserved communities in this country. "There are millions of unbanked and underbanked people in the U.S. They may be newer immigrants, or their families may have been here for centuries," she says. "People who have thin credit profiles or no credit history can't be found in the system as it exists today. So, when they need credit—if they apply for a loan or insurance, for instance—they won't have it."

Maheen is passionate about the issue of credit building. By reinventing the Freddie Mac CreditSmart® financial capability curriculum, she hopes to drive real change in the area of credit invisibility by providing resources to help people build their credit. "With this new coursework, we're going beyond financial literacy," Maheen says. "Our objective is to create financial capability."

"Transcreating" the script

At Freddie Mac, financial empowerment is part of our mission. The original CreditSmart program was created 20 years ago to promote financial literacy for America's renters and homebuyers. A new iteration, launching this July, takes a more holistic approach to financial education, with a curriculum that is even more inclusive and applicable to all people in all communities.

"We wanted the images, graphics and written content to better reflect our consumers across income, age, gender, ability and racial and ethnic groups," she says. "We call the process 'transcreation' because it's more than a simple translation of words."

To better understand the obstacles that prevent Americans from achieving homeownership or renting, Maheen and her team got input from housing counselors, nonprofits, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other industry partners. Maheen says that the transcreation process is continual, and future updates to CreditSmart financial capability resources will serve communities with limited English proficiency and other segments.

Maheen firmly believes that "a lack of financial literacy can be remedied by financial education," but it needs to go further than that.
"It's still not enough—especially in historically underserved communities," Maheen says, "You have to turn education into knowledge, and the knowledge must be tied to sustainable access to financial products, services and credit."

CreditSmart is a free suite of educational resources that focuses on financial capability and homeownership education, empowering consumers to achieve their short and long-term financial goals. Learners can create a customized experience that meets their unique needs and objectives, while gaining the tools they need to become successful renters and homeowners. CreditSmart financial capability resources are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible and include consumer education, as well as a train-the-trainer program for anyone who wishes to coach consumers.

At Freddie Mac, our mission to make home possible for everyone is what sets us apart. If you're looking to make an impact, this is where you'll find it. Discover our open opportunities today.

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