Free Personal Finance Classes for Schools: New Program Aims to Extend Financial Literacy for Teens in the U.S. With Support from the Charles Schwab Foundation

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VSgirls like geometry, biology and, increasingly, personal finance fill a teenager’s average school calendar. Nonetheless, access to quality financial literacy courses remains uneven in the United States, and less than half of the states require them for graduation.

The Charles Schwab Foundation hopes to close the gap with an ambitious program announced today that plans to make personal finance courses available at all colleges and high schools across the United States by 2025, for free. The charitable arm of the Texas-based brokerage giant (it has $ 7.6 trillion in assets under management) will lead the program, dubbed Moneywise America, to train up to a quarter of Schwab’s 32,500 U.S. employees as ‘volunteer instructors.

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Designed in conjunction with various organizations that set educational standards and advocate for access to personal finance courses, including the Council for Economic Education (CEE) and the Jump $ tart Coalition, Moneywise America’s 22-hour program covers everything. the range from budgeting and saving to long-term responsible investing, says Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, President of the Charles Schwab Foundation and daughter of the eponymous company billionaire founder.

“We are in a time when there is no economic parity, and there are a lot of social problems that we face today as a country,” observes Schwab-Pomerantz. “We want to be part of that solution, and we think financial literacy is a great equalizer. “

This isn’t the foundation’s first foray into financial literacy: it partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs in 2003 to create a personal finance course that has since reached over a million teens, for example. example. So far this year, Moneywise America has accounted for about 30% of the Charles Schwab Foundation’s overall donations to financial literacy, and as the program grows, the organization expects it to become its largest. big investment in financial literacy. As of 2022, schools will be able to start requesting resources (including Schwab volunteers to teach the program) through a dedicated website. The program will also be available to non-profit organizations. For example, Moneywise America is partnering with Girl Scouts to expand financial literacy programs starting in late 2022 for K-12 members.

When teens learn about personal finance, it can positively impact their future financial well-being, confidence, and ability to cope with student loans and financial emergencies, says Annamaria Lusardi, professor of economics and accounting at the George Washington University School of Business in Washington DC and founder of the school’s Financial Literacy Center.

“The results are very clear, that we know that financial education works for a variety of behaviors in young people,” Lusardi points out.

Currently, only 21 states require high school students to take a personal finance course to graduate, according to the latest EEC national survey, released in 2020. Lusardi supports broader requirements for personal finance education, adding that exposure to this type of learning is traditionally reserved. for young people whose wealthy, well-educated parents instilled financial principles early on.

“I think the school has an extremely important role to play, because it provides access for everyone, it offers early access and it provides rigorous training,” says Lusardi, who has researched financial literacy. for nearly two decades.

The public seems to agree. More than 80% of Americans think high school students should take personal finance classes, according to a survey released last month by the National Financial Educators Council. Yet most states fail to teach the subject well. A recent analysis by the American Public Education Foundation claimed that two-thirds of states (35 states including Puerto Rico and Washington DC) achieved grades of “C” or less for teaching financial literacy, with just 17 States that have obtained ratings of “A” or “B.” Moneywise America’s volunteer program and instructors will be available free to schools and nonprofits, which could help bridge this persistent gap between intention and execution.

Investing in particular remains a popular topic for college students, although questions about Robinhood have started to crop up over the past year, according to Shahar Ziv, founder of Acing Your Finances, a financial wellness company that operates out of business. ‘partnered with Harvard University Employees Credit Union in 2011 to offer an annual course in personal finance management.

“The topic that interests students the most is investment, depending on attendance and demand for workshops on that topic,” says Ziv, a TBEN contributor. “But in order to have money to invest and do it smartly, they must first learn the basics, such as budgeting, saving and financial planning.

While the Charles Schwab Foundation operates independently of the brokerage from which it takes its name (and its funding), Moneywise America could have the added benefit of attracting the next generation of smart and well-prepared investors.

“The ultimate success is that they become financially competent and confident, as this will lead to financial security,” says Schwab-Pomerantz. “Whether they come to Schwab or Fidelity is their choice. We are just trying to give them the basic information, so that they can make wise choices for their future.

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