SmartMoney Program




Bright Future Awards 2005


On Thursday, August 13th, 2009 at Cincinnati Music Hall, SmartMoney Community Services honored and celebrated the successes of four individuals for the following awards:
Duke Energy United Way of Greater Cincinnati City of Cincinnati Key Bank



SmartSuccess Award –
Shanelle Hankins
Individual program participant
and/or graduate of the year

Click here to view a video about Shanelle's accomplishments.
(hi-speed internet connections only - mpg file, 34MB filesize)

hanell Hankins, a highly disciplined single mother, is truly an example of how sacrifice combined with financial knowledge can dramatically change one’s life. When Shanell came to SMARTMONEY in April of 2007, she was unaware that she spent $450 a month that she did not possess. In order to get control over her spending, she tracked her spending for 30 days and decided to follow a set budget. Her counselor’s Action Plan included reducing spending, increasing income, implementing a spending/savings plan, enrolling in SmartHome Ownership Workshop, paying off collection debt on her credit report, disputing erroneous accounts, and creating savings accounts. As a result of Shanell’s diligence and perseverance, she was able to accomplish each one of the steps recommended to get the quality mortgage and home she deserved.

Since April of 2007, Shanell improved her credit by paying all of her collections, and she has had several erroneous and duplicate items removed from her credit. She has been taking control of her finances by sticking to a spending plan, managing her monthly bills with bill-pay so that they are always paid on time, and making regular savings into several savings accounts earmarked for different goals. Shanell was able to qualify for several programs to help her get into a home – including SMARTMONEY’s IDA matched savings program, an IDA from the State of Ohio, and a payment assistant grant from the city; her grants totaled over $10,000 in assistance. In addition, Shanell saved over $4,000 of her own money by making savings contributions out of each paycheck and using opportunities like earn income tax credits, tax refunds, and economic stimulus rebates for debt repayment or home savings.

Shanell fell in love with several houses, and had lending obstacles with her first lender; nonetheless, on January 2009, Shanell’s hard work and perseverance paid off. Shanell and her three children moved into a newly renovated three-bedroom home in Pleasant Ridge. In addition to owning a home, her credit score improved almost 200 points since starting her counseling.

Arnetta Lawrence  

SmartPath Award –
Arnetta Lawrence

Individual program participant
and/or graduate of the year

Click here to view a video about Arnetta's accomplishments.
(hi-speed internet connections only - mpg file, 18MB filesize)

rnetta Lawerence’s goal was to be debt free by December 2008. Ms. Lawrence attended the Credit Yourself: “The Way to Financial Fitness” program hosted by SMARTMONEY Community Services in hopes that she could use the information to achieve her goal. She completed the entire program and also completed one on one financial counseling session.

Ms. Lawrence followed the plan that her financial counselor provided. She eliminated a number of miscellaneous expenses and started saving. All of Ms. Lawrence’s disciplined and hard work has paid off. She has paid all of her negative debt, totaling $1,500, that was reporting on her credit report. Ms. Lawrence is now debt free and continues to save and live debt free.

Nefree Cook  

SmartEntrepreneur Award –
Nefree Cook
Smart Business/Build Your Own Business
of the Year

Click here to view a video about Nefree's accomplishments.
(hi-speed internet connections only - mpg file, 23MB filesize)

efree Cook learned about SMARTMONEY Community Services after meeting our lead SmartBusiness/B.Y.O.B trainer, Jim Clingman in 2002. Her first contact with SMARTMONEY Community Services was to enroll in the SmartStep Savings IDA program. Nefree attended every SmartStep Savings session and completed the SmartChange Financial Counseling curriculum. Nefree graduated from the SmartStep Savings/IDA program and received a total of $5400 to use to purchase her first property.

After completing the IDA program, Nefree enrolled in the SmartBusiness / BYOB Program. With a background in construction project management and an associate’s degree in Civil Engineering, Nefree wanted to start her own property investment company. After graduating from the SmartBusiness program, Nefree went on to receive her Real Estate license in 2006. She is currently a Realtor with Coldwell Banker/West Shell. Since then she has purchased a number of properties, both single family and multi-unit. She currently owns 10 properties.

Nefree truly is passionate about the work of SMARTMONEY Community Services and believes that we are one of the cities “best kept secrets.” She has consistently remained in touch with the staff of SMCS and is currently a volunteer in our SmartHome program.

PNC Bank  

SmartLeadership Award –
PNC Bank

Leadership and devotion to the long-term success of SmartMoney

PNC Bank throughout their many years of dedicated service, established a legacy of expanding SMARTMONEY’s innovative services to include homeownership training and micro loans or matched savings incentive programs, as a model to help foster the growth and vitality of low income families and communities.

In 1998, PNC Bank began a partnership with SMARTMONEY Community Services, that allowed the organization to expand their scope, increase it’s name recognition, diversify their funding streams and assist the organization in providing the financial education needed for so many residents of Cincinnati to become or remain self sufficient.

Our partnership was elevated in 2002, when PNC Bank donated $100,000 in support of the operations of the Over-the-Rhine branch of Cincinnati Central Credit Union. As a result of their commitment in 2004, SMARTMONEY began presenting our 6-week SmartHome Ownership classes for first-time homebuyers. From SmartLoan, SmartDollars & Sense, SmartStep Savings, and SmartHome, PNC Bank has enabled SMARTMONEY Community Services to reach more individuals through our counseling and education programs.


The luncheon was an exciting celebration attended by over 100 program participants, volunteers, supporters, and friends of SmartMoney.

The 2009 Bright Future Awards Luncheon was presented by PNC Bank.


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