SEED Winnipeg and ACU: Building community and financial literacy

It can be challenging for low-income individuals to get ahead financially, especially when they don’t have access to basics like personal identification or a bank account. The partnership between SEED Winnipeg and ACU was formed to address these challenges and, over the years, has helped countless participants improve their financial literacy to change their lives for the better.


In this two-part series, we’ll explore the Asset Building Programs at SEED Winnipeg, and how their people, partners and participants are improving financial futures together.


Managing money on your own terms

Programming ranges from critical need to long-term support, all of which are bundled in SEED Winnipeg’s Asset Building Programs. For most participants, Access to Benefits ends up becoming a natural starting point, where members get help applying for government identification, accessing entitled benefits or filing income tax returns.

Financial literacy programming — SEED Winnipeg Asset Building Programs

Something as simple as a birth certificate, which many people may take for granted, is able to change somebody’s life. Ultimately, once a lower income individual graduates this program, they may continue their financial journey with SEED Winnipeg and ACU. For example, they may apply for a birth certificate, file taxes, open an account, take part in a matched savings program or open a business.

Higher education for lower-income earners

Money Management, in particular, has been one of the flagship programs offered. Community members can learn about setting financial goals, making a budget and dealing with credit challenges. The program serves people with diverse backgrounds living on a low income. The skills they take away from the series give them the opportunity to instill long-term habits.

Another popular program is Saving Circle — a financial matching program that allows participants to receive a three-to-one contribution towards a purchase up to $1,000. This could be a training program, education savings or furniture purchase. In one case, a member used the program to buy their first bed – literally helping them sleep easier at night.

A helping hand for members

Mani Sheppard-Luangkhot, ACU

Like a lot of program participants, Mani Sheppard-Luangkhot, is no stranger to the impact of a low-income household. She moved to Winnipeg with her parents and siblings in 1985 from Laos, and her family had their share of financial challenges. Programs like SEED Winnipeg didn’t exist when they were struggling, and Mani felt destined to graduate high school and work multiple jobs like her family.

“Life experiences have a way of making an impact,” Mani explains. “I didn’t want to see the same financial stresses.”

Her career path ended up going in a different direction than her parents and eventually led to ACU, where she’s currently working as Manager of Financial Access Programs.

When asked why ACU’s partnership with SEED Winnipeg is so important, she says it’s their collaborative approach and focus on community. “Every action, no matter how small, makes a difference,” Mani wisely states. “They’re advocating for people that may not have a voice. That’s important.”

Working on the financial front lines to improve financial literacy

Millie Acuna, SEED Winnipeg

Millie Acuna currently works at SEED Winnipeg as the Manager of Asset Building Programs. But her career path goes back two decades to ACU, where she started working as a Member Service Representative. In 2015, she transitioned to SEED Winnipeg to continue building financial literacy and community.

Being on the front line helped her truly appreciate the impact that these initiatives can have.

“There’s one guarantee in life. Challenges will come,” Millie states. “SEED Winnipeg gives people the tools and resources they need to tackle life head on. Seeing them accomplish their goals is why I’m here.”

Visit seedwinnipeg.ca to learn more about their upcoming programs or speak with an ACU member services representative or financial advisor to get started on a new financial journey today to improve your financial literacy.

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Learn how SEED Winnipeg participants have benefited from the programming.


About Matt Cohen

Matt is a Winnipeg-based marketer and investor who covers the Canadian financial services industry.

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