Amy Baker speaks to the Mother’s Club.

When Bethel College junior Amy Baker gave a presentation on Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover in a personal finance class last spring, she had no idea she’d be taking the concepts into the real world just a few months later. But on a Thursday in October, that’s just what she did.

Baker presented a seminar on financial foundations to the Mother’s Club — a ministry of RETA (reason enough to act) that supports mothers in need — in Elkhart. It outlined the basics of saving, budgeting and increasing income.

“The first step is creating an emergency fund,” Baker said. “That prevents adding new debt to existing debt. About $500 is a good starting place.”

At the end of the seminar, the mothers were given an opportunity to set up a savings account through Teacher’s Credit Union (TCU) with a special incentive: an interest rate of 25%.

It was all possible through a partnership between Bethel’s chapter of Enactus (entrepreneurship, action, us), a national business club with a focus on merging service and economics for the betterment of the community, and TCU.

Aaron Schavey, Enactus faculty advisor and assistant professor of business, came up with the idea after hearing Baker speak in his class and talking with another business student, Rickyle Lunford, who works at TCU. Schavey and Enactus had worked with the Mother’s Club previously – mostly giving seminars on things like applying for college, time management and budgeting. But Schavey wanted to do something more long-lasting and impactful.

Rickyle Lunforld (left) helps Mother’s Club member Jennifer Miner (center) set up a savings account with TCU.

“I talked to Rickyle to see if TCU would be interested in participating with us. He talked to his manager,” Schavey said.

TCU agreed to waive all application fees and made a donation of $500 to Enactus that could be used to pay interest on the accounts. The program is designed so that 25% interest will be applied to the accounts four times between now and May 2013, at random, with a cap of $25 per interest payment.

“I wanted it to be a visible incentive, to have a big impact,” Schavey said about making the interest rate 25%.

The reception from the mothers was overwhelmingly positive.

“I filled out my application for a savings account and I think it’s a really great idea,” said Jennifer Miner, who has been coming to the Mother’s Club for five years.

Connie Grove, club organizer, thought the seminar was very well received. “I feel like the savings account is an incredible opportunity and I just hope they take advantage of it,” she said.

Not only is Bethel working with mothers to set up savings accounts; they’ve set up a program that will pair individuals with Bethel finance students to help them work out a budget and hold them accountable.

For Baker, this is an opportunity to merge ministry with finance, and at the same time, gain a real-world perspective. “We’re excited to meet real needs and build relationships with these moms in the next year,” she said.

In addition to working with the Mother’s Club, Enactus is making an impact in the community through tutoring programs, Feed the Children and working with low income churches.