Last Thursday, the BBA joined educators, financial advisors, government employees, and other nonprofit staff to discuss the status of financial literacy among high schoolers throughout the state at the Massachusetts Jump$tart! Coalition Financial Literacy Roundtable Discussion. The program taught us some important information about the state of Financial Literacy in Massachusetts and some interesting things about our own program.
Here’s what we took away:
1) Massachusetts has no mandate. Unlike other states, Massachusetts does not mandate that students learn any financial literacy before graduating from high school. The lack of a requirement, coupled with limited school resources and jam-packed curriculums, acts as a key impediment to integrating financial literacy into high school curriculum.
2) The BBA’s program meets a need. The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program helps fill the gap in financial education while working around these constraints. As you may remember, 1,300 high school students throughout the state learned how to make sound financial decisions with the help of over 150 volunteer attorneys last year.
3) Our program makes it easy. Because each module is only an hour long, the program does not interfere with lesson plans or MCAS preparations. Our volunteers relieve the burden on the teacher to learn and create new financial literacy lesson plans, plus they offer a truly unique legal perspective on the consequences of poor financial decision making.
4) We can do more. Other roundtable participants highlighted the importance of integrating interactive technology into financial literacy curriculum and closely monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of financial literacy programs. Over the next year we will be evaluating our program and looking for opportunities to strengthen it.