It was great having Carmen Tall on the NGPF podcast recently to discuss her financial literacy work at a non-profit, Mercy Connections, located in Burlington, Vermont. Carmen is the director of the Women’s Small Business program. It was through that work that Carmen identified the need for a Financial Empowerment class to improve her clients’ financial skills. We had a great conversation covering a variety of topics; from Carmen’s experience as an entrepreneur and how that shapes her program to how she creates a safe and open environment so difficult conversations about money can happen. What is clear throughout the podcast is Carmen’s passion for her work and how impactful that work has been in creating a thriving start-up ecosystem in Burlington. I can’t wait to try the cupcakes when I am in town next!


  • 0:00~1:36 – Introduction
  • 1:36~3:19Carmen’s work at Mercy Connections
  • 3:19~4:50 – Entrepreneurial projects
  • 4:50~8:25 – Exciting businesses that they have incubated at Mercy Connections
  • 8:25~10:23 – How values play a role in her organization’s work
  • 10:23~11:52 – Importance of strong relationships with banks
  • 11:52~14:16 – Her experience with banking
  • 14:16~19:30 – Description of her financial literacy program
  • 19:30~21:57 – ‘Aha!’ moments in the classroom
  • 21:57~23:09 – Confusion regarding student debt
  • 23:09~24:51 – Difficulties of budgeting
  • 24:51~26:08 – A word from our sponsor, Next Gen Personal Finance
  • 26:08~28:03 – How to creating a safe environment to talk finances
  • 28:03~29:37 – Typical client
  • 29:37~31:08 – Role a coach plays
  • 31:08~32:45 – Background of her coaches
  • 32:45~35:03 – Tough love or nurturing approach: What works best?
  • 35:03~39:01 – Success stories
  • 39:01~42:31 – Her favorite resources
  • 42:31~45:59 – Important money issues
  • 45:59~47:15 – Being frugal
  • 47:15~48:05 – Conclusion
  • “Everyone says pay the debt with the highest interest rate and of course there is value in that but sometimes they need to pay the debt with the smallest balance. They need a victory.”