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Financial Literacy: Why Wait?


Employees’ financial literacy — and its relevance to financial preparedness for retirement — is generating increasing concern and attention. But if it’s good to start saving young, why not foster financial literacy at a young age as well?

Some schools and programs are doing just that. And they’re reaching youth well before college. In some cases, even before high school.

Menomonee Falls High School in Menomonee Falls, WI has made taking a class in personal finance a requirement for graduation. In an interview by WTMJ-TV, which broadcasts from nearby Milwaukee, Menomonee Falls High School Director of Curriculum Casey Blochowiak said that the school wants its students to take the class in their junior year, since during that year many students are “seriously considering” college and major purchases such as buying cars.

And there are organizations that seek to assist schools in efforts such as those at Menomonee Falls. Next Gen Personal Finance, a non-profit organization, is one of them. Its founder, Tim Ranzetta, was inspired to better enable teachers to provide personal finance instruction after his personal experience as a volunteer high school personal finance teacher of encountering difficulty in putting together a curriculum and resources. Next Gen offers a high-school personal finance curriculum that includes lessons and activities that can be customized; it also provides teachers with professional development to better equip them to engender understanding of money and finance among their students.

Junior Achievement is another organization that offers programs that support and supplement school efforts to provide financial literacy. Its program JA Finance Park seeks to educate high school and middle school students on financial literacy, including instruction on budgeting, investing and managing risk. During the 2013-14 school year, Junior Achievement’s Oklahoma branch assisted in teaching more than 51,000 students. Junior Achievement and Luther Burbank Savings are partners in a financial literacy effort that How to reports will reach 1,200 students in nine days in Sonoma County, CA.

Cromwell Valley Elementary Regional Magnet School is starting even earlier. The Baltimore Sun reports that the school provides instruction on financial literacy and personal finance to its students, and that at its March 5 “Ignite Financial Literacy Night,” the school provided parents of its fifth-graders information about the school’s financial education program. But it even provided workshops for the parents on college, estates, economic forecasts and retirement saving.