Resource Collection: Financial Empowerment for Refugees and Newcomers

A refugee’s resettlement journey involves not only acclimating to a new environment, but also learning the intricacies of a new financial system often vastly different from that of their home country. Navigating personal finance is thus a challenging task for many newcomers. Gaining a thorough understanding of the U.S. financial system empowers newcomers with the skills to make informed financial decisions and manage their money effectively, leading to greater financial stability and security. It can also serve as protection against potential financial harm and exploitation and can foster self-reliance. To support service providers, Switchboard has compiled the following list of recommended resources. While some resources may be useful to share directly with clients, this resource guide is primarily intended for use by service providers supporting newcomers’ financial capabilities. 

Foundations for Financial Empowerment

When aiding newcomers in building their financial capabilities, providers may benefit from relying on standards that serve as guiding principles geared toward empowering individuals striving for financial independence and security. The following resources propose standards and key definitions that can be used to guide the work of refugee service providers.  

Specific Financial Capabilities Topics

The following resources may serve as the building blocks and activities that providers can use when working directly with refugees to build their knowledge of the U.S. financial system. Included are fundamental topics and culturally sensitive examples, providing a foundation for service providers to further develop.  

Budgeting and Money Management  


Saving and Purchasing  

Building Credit  

Filing Taxes 


Avoiding Scams and Fraud 


Financial Capabilities Curricula, Lesson Plans, and Tools

These materials aim to empower service providers with a comprehensive set of resources for developing and implementing lessons geared toward strengthening clients’ financial literacy. Included are assessments, guides, and a collection of strategies and existing lesson plans that service providers can adapt, customize, and expand upon.  

Additional Instructional Design Resources

The resources below address gaps that providers may have in terms of instructional design and adult learning principles. While Switchboard does not recommend any single curriculum/course design template for financial literacy, providers are encouraged to review similar courses’ curricula and lesson plans from the Switchboard and CORE resource libraries in general.  

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