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Advancing Financial Education for Youth

April 6, 2017

April is Financial Literacy Month. To mark the occasion, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released an updated version of the Advancing K-12 Financial Education report, a guide developed to help leaders develop and implement youth-targeted financial education. While the guide in its entirety is a useful resource for those who seek to advance (and advocate for) financial literacy education, below are three key components:

  1. Lay the groundwork. The CFPB illustrates the importance of creating a strong foundation for K-12 financial education. A strong foundation, among other things, makes the case for K-12 financial education, fosters partnerships with a range of stakeholders, and secures necessary resources.Here’s a great example: the Kindergarten to College (K2C) program in California provides every public school student entering kindergarten in the city with a College Savings Account (CSA) containing a $50 deposit. K2C is led by the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the San Francisco Unified School District. With other local organizations and businesses providing incentives to keep and manage the savings account, this initiative bridges the gap between school and the real world.
  2. Build the initiative. A successful financial literacy program requires educational content standards and requirements, teacher training, and classroom resources as well as measures to evaluate program effectiveness.For instance, the state of Florida used the Council for Economic Education’s (CEE) financial education standards in the state’s social studies curriculum. As part of these standards, financial education is woven into the social studies curriculum alongside other subjects such as American history, civics and government, economics, and geography, at various levels from grade 4 to grade 12. In addition, students must complete an economics course that includes financial literacy as a requirement for graduation.
  3. Extend the impact. The final observation is that existing K-12 financial education initiatives provide opportunities for improvement and can also be used as a springboard for expansion. The CFPB emphasizes the need to extend the reach of K-12 financial education initiatives by “engaging a broad community of stakeholders, and by building a framework to measure, adapt, and strengthen initiatives over time.”The CFPB notes that Colorado, for example, uses Financial Literacy Month to promote the state’s efforts to improve financial literacy. For H&R Block, the Budget Challenge initiative helps teens develop real-word money management skills that include paying bills, managing expenses, saving money and investing in retirement.

The CFPB’s guide outlines procedures to help lawmakers, non-profits, and legislators further the financial education of youth and create better financial—and tax—outcomes later on in life.

Read the full report from CFPB here.

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