Wanted: Your Success Stories Teaching Consumers About Small Loans
Do you have success stories and words of wisdom you’d be willing to share with other financial educators about teaching consumers (especially low- to moderate-income people) how to find affordable, small-dollar loans when they're in need of extra cash? The best stories and tips may appear in a future issue of Money Smart News. Please send your submissions toMoneySmartNews@fdic.gov.
Money Smart for Young Adults: Success Stories and Strategies for the School Year
This marks the second school year for Money Smart for Young Adults (MSYA), the FDIC's financial education curriculum introduced in April 2008 for ages 12 to 21. According to Luke W. Reynolds, Chief of the FDIC's Community Affairs Outreach Section, "We are pleased at how the use of Money Smart for Young Adults has rapidly expanded during a little more than a year and how Money Smart partners are creatively using our curriculum to teach young people to manage their money and use mainstream banking products effectively."
That's why Money Smart News is sharing some of the early success stories from educators using MSYA as well as some strategies that can help educators reach this crucial target audience.
As expected, MSYA is being taught by teachers in both public and private schools across the nation. In fact, during the first 16 months since the curriculum was released, approximately 29 percent of the more than 51,000 orders for the instructor-led CD were from schools or other education-related organizations. For example, educators at Demopolis High School in Demopolis, Alabama, teach the curriculum through a personal finance course, as does Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin, Massachusetts, which uses all eight modules of MSYA to anchor a personal finance class for 200 students.
Bankers also teach or co-teach the curriculum in the classroom. One example is Chelsea Groton Savings Bank based in Groton, Connecticut, which has already taught MSYA to thousands of students in 13 area high schools and junior high schools in conjunction with several other organizations. Pam Days-Luketich, the bank's Community Education Officer, tailors the financial education lessons to fit each school's schedule year-round. Examples: One school offers "Money Smart lunches" one day a month to students who voluntarily forgo their lunch period to participate in one of the MSYA's eight instructor-led modules. And, more than 150 area high-school students participated this year in "Money Madness," an annual event hosted at Connecticut College featuring MSYA workshops and other activities.
The curriculum is also used to reach young people outside schools. For example, the "Match Savings" program at the Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Opportunities Initiative (MAYOI) enables low-income students to save for a goal, such as college education, and have a portion of their savings matched in an Individual Development Account. In order to participate in this program, though, students must complete all eight MSYA modules and receive a certificate of training completion. After mastering the curriculum, MAYOI has given each student $1,000, which the organization's partners have matched for a combined total of $2,000 going into the student's account. Another example is the Campaign for Working Families' Savings Campaign in Daytona Beach, Florida, which uses MSYA to teach youths about opening a checking account, saving and spending wisely, properly using credit, and the basics of purchasing a car and renting an apartment.
Some Money Smart partners also reach young people through hosting train-the-trainer workshops for other educators who will deliver MSYA in the communities they serve. For example, CreditWorthy, based in Deptford, New Jersey, has trained educators from more than 50 organizations ranging from social service agencies to employees of Susquehanna Bancshares, based in Camden, New Jersey.
Financial education of youth also can be used to reach unbanked parents. California Bank & Trust has taught MSYA to young people in the low-income Andy Street housing project in Long Beach, California. Ten youths graduated from the bank's inaugural MSYA program in 2008 and inspired many of their parents -- 16 of them -- to complete Money Smart classes for adults in 2009.
What other strategies can financial educators consider for teaching responsible money management to youths...and perhaps their parents, too? Here are additional suggestions from FDIC staff members based on what Money Smart partners are doing:
Feature financial education resources, including the FDIC's Money Smart Podcast Network (the MP3 version of Money Smart), on your Web site. Salem Five Cents Savings Bank in Salem, Massachusetts, has included a prominent link to the MP3 version of Money Smart on its Web page for youths interested in learning about and opening a student checking account. "Incorporating a link to FDIC resources from Web pages where people make financial choices is a great way to integrate relevant financial education information into a teachable moment," said Irma Matias, an FDIC Community Affairs Specialist.
Link participation in the MSYA curriculum at a school to opening a bank savings account. "This way students can immediately begin practicing what they are learning," said Reynolds. In one example, the Burton Elementary School in Durham, North Carolina, adapted MSYA for use as part of a savings program run in conjunction with Mechanics and Farmers Bank of Durham. In another example, seniors at MetEast High School in Camden, New Jersey, learned the basics of handling their finances from a combination of MSYA classes and a financial simulation the school called "On My Own." Students were assigned an income, family size and credit score, and then they visited 10 "simulation stations" where they had to make financial decisions related to housing, transportation and health care, with some guidance from MetEast teachers and volunteers. At the end of the exercise, the local Wachovia Bank opened checking accounts for the students. According to New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education President Maryanne Evanko, "ending instruction with a real-life simulation is often the best way to reinforce learning."
Be creative about where financial education is integrated. Chelsea Groton Savings Bank has integrated the MSYA curriculum into classes ranging from special education to honors economics. "Business classes would be another idea for a good fit for the Money Smart curriculum," noted Matias. "So would GED classes, English as a Second Language classes and special programs and classes for parents." Also look for opportunities to hold financial literacy workshops and exhibits at local carnivals and similar events.
Don't forget college students.Money Smart for Young Adults has been taught through a number of colleges and universities. For example, the curriculum was integrated into the mandatory freshman orientation programs at Howard University in Washington, DC. Alexis Guy, a sophomore who participated in an MSYA workshop at Howard, said, "I learned numerous ways to be 'money smart' and I gained a better understanding of credit....I spoke with my mother and she was delighted to learn this information as well." In addition to teaching the material at orientation or through a semester-long class, universities can consider inviting guest speakers for special workshops and linking a variety of Web pages for students to the MP3 version of Money Smart.