People collaborating in the center.

About the Sanford Center

The Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness in the Haworth College of Business at Western Michigan University promotes financial literacy throughout the greater Kalamazoo community via workshops, seminars, summer camps and research.

Many college students need information when it comes to making smart financial decisions, including financing higher education. It is essential that students can critically analyze, synthesize and apply the right knowledge to effectively manage their finances in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing financial landscape. The center promotes the financial fitness of Southwest Michigan communities and in turn increases retention, recruitment and graduation rates for Western Michigan University.

Leveraging financial skills

The center leverages the skills and talents of students, faculty, staff and community members to address the growing concern of financial literacy by:

  • Promoting financial wellness and financial planning throughout the greater Kalamazoo community through workshops, seminars, summer camps and research.
  • Fostering and enhancing the financial literacy of area high school students, college students and southwest Michigan communities.
  • Providing financial coaching to students prior to key financial decisions via a network of experienced practitioners and student interns.
  • Conducting and publishing research related to the impact of financial literacy and planning education initiatives.
  • Stimulating collaboration between financial planning practitioners and departmental faculty.

Peer financial coaching

Financial planning is a critical skill. And we know it is not easy to plan for your financial future, especially while juggling the demands of being a student.

All WMU students have access to peer financial coaching free of charge. During the financial coaching session, you can sit down one-on-one with a coach and go over your individual financial picture. We will be happy to discuss any personal finance concerns or questions you have and will provide you with useful tools and resources.

How can we help? We provide coaching on these topics and more:

  • Budgeting
  • Debt management
  • Saving
  • Credit cards
  • Student loans
  • Comparing job offers
  • WMU Haworth student waiting to assist peers in financial matters.

The Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness has general office hours from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Quote

  • The Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness is the culmination of Todd Sanford's vision. We are honored to be able to partner with him to realize the center’s goals. Its impact in terms of personal financial coaching as well as recruiting talented students into the profession will make a difference for individuals, families and the industry in substantial ways. We are extremely grateful to Todd for his meaningful gift that so perfectly captures what higher education is all about.

    Satish Deshpande, dean, Haworth College of Business

Meet Todd Sanford

Professional photo of Todd Sanford wearing a dark suit against a gray backgroundIn 2018, a multi-million-dollar gift by alumnus Todd Sanford established the Western Michigan University Center for Financial Planning and Wellness, which serves students and community members in a variety of ways.

One of those ways is through financial coaching where trained students provide financial advice and resources to fellow students and community members, under the supervision of experienced financial planners and faculty.

The center also seeks to build the financial planning talent pipeline by engaging students in WMU's personal financial planning major. The financial planning industry has a couple of significant issues facing its future—a shortage of qualified employees and a need for a more diverse workforce, including women and individuals of color. Those are areas where the center will have a significant impact through student outreach.

Sanford's vision is to develop a resource center that provides an integrated approach to personal finance and financial health in the region, with the goal of one day becoming a national model.

Sanford has been honored on Barron's Top Advisor List on multiple occasions, the Financial Times 400 List as a Top Advisor, and Forbes Magazine's State-by-State List of Top Advisors. He has also been recognized as a Top 10 Financial Advisor at Raymond James for more than a decade, out of more than 8,100 advisors. Additionally, Sanford earned an honorable mention for the Catalyst Award in the 2020 Invest in Others Awards. A WMU Bronco at heart, he bleeds brown and gold. He has had a 35-year affiliation with WMU, including his time as a finance student in the 1980s, a stint as an adjunct professor in finance, and now as an advisor to a variety of campus programs, as well as the new center. He has received the Department of Finance and Commercial Law Outstanding Alumni Award and the Haworth College of Business Outstanding Service Award.

 

  • Advisory board

    Directors

    Dr. Onur Arugaslan, Professor of Finance
    Dr. Jim DeMello, Chair, Department of Finance and Commercial Law
     

    Members

    Stuart Chipman-Bergsma, Associate, Lennon, Miller, O’Connor & Bartosiewicz, PLC
    Dr. John M. DunnPresident Emeritus, Western Michigan University
    Michael HolmesPartner, DeMent & Marquardt, PLC
    Sarah KlerkDirector of Business Collaboration, Kalamazoo Promise
    Ric KnappFinancial Advisor, Edward Jones
    Regi KurianPresident, Amhawk 
    Todd SanfordCEO, Sanford Advisory
    Dr. Thomas Schultz, Associate Professor of Accountancy
    Judy SwaffordCommunity Relations Manager, Arbor Financial Credit Union
    Perry WolfeKalamazoo Community President, Chemical Bank
  • Events

    The Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness hosts a variety of events throughout the year. To view the most updated calendar, click on the link below.

  • Invest in the Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness

    With your support, Western Michigan University's Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness will:

    • Promote financial wellness and planning in the greater Kalamazoo community through workshops, seminars, summer camps and research.
    • Foster financial literacy for area high school students, college students and southwest Michigan communities.
    • Provide financial coaching to students prior to key financial decisions via a network of experienced practitioners and student interns.
    • Stimulate collaboration between financial planning practitioners and departmental faculty.

    You can support the Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness by making a gift online or contacting DeNel Stoltz, chief development officer for the Haworth College of Business by email or at (269) 387-4829.

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