Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy for All

Setting goals, budgeting, saving, spending, borrowing, using credit — these are just a few types of knowledge, skills and behaviors people need to manage their resources effectively. It also takes 21st century skills such as research, analysis and problem solving to make good financial decisions. 

African American father and child putting coins in piggy bank

Research and policy recommendations emphasize the value of targeting parents at the same time as young people, making 21st CCLC programs ideal settings for advancing financial literacy.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be a financial whiz for your out-of-school time program to help students and their families make sense of financial concepts. In fact, many of your current activities can be tweaked to help even the youngest students build financial literacy in age-appropriate ways. 

For ideas on how to fit financial literacy into out-of-school time activities, see the downloadable Quick Guide to Financial Literacy. See below for resources from government, professional and nonprofit groups that care about building financial literacy. You’ll find materials you can use with students and their families.

Curricula and Resources

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

  • Money Smart for Young People: Free curricula for four grade bands (PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12). Each includes teacher and instructor resources, short videos and activity books.
  • Youth Banking Resource Center: Free resources to help banks and schools work together to improve financial literacy. Includes support for partnerships that help students open bank accounts.

The Brookings Institution

Partnership for After School Education

  • Fostering Financial Literacy for Youth: This Fall 2017 Workshop Series, archived for viewing, provided lessons and resources on topics such as budgeting and saving, credit cards and fraud schemes, and FAFSA and college financial aid. Look for the possibility of similar offerings in the future.

U.S. Department of the Treasury

  • MoneyMath: Lessons for Life: Designed for middle school teachers; downloadable student lessons on these topics: The Secret to Becoming a Millionaire (savings and interest); Wallpaper Woes (a redecorating project that covers expenses, budget constraints and trade-offs); Math and Taxes: A Pair to Count On (explores careers, human capital skills, salaries, income tax); Spreading the Budget (uses a spreadsheet to develop a budget for a college student, examine expenses and adjust for cash flow problems).

National Endowment for Financial Education

  • High School Financial Planning Program: Free materials for teachers and students grades 8-12 to plan for higher education.
  • Financial Workshop Kits: Free resources to lead workshops on topics that include money management and budgeting for college students; dealing with debt, for college students and for adults; family money skills to build financial literacy; saving on a limited budget; and more.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Education Alliance, West Virginia GEAR UP, Other Partners

  • Make Cents West Virginia: This site offers areas to help family members, students (includes an online game) and educators improve financial literacy teaching and learning.

Wells Fargo

How the Market Works

  • Stock Market Game: This free simulator game offers materials for teachers, students and everyone to learn about investing with no risk.

Next Gen Personal Finance

Potential Partners

Local Banks

  • Youth Banking Resource Center: Free resources to help banks and school programs work together to improve financial literacy. Includes support for partnerships that help students open bank accounts.

The following youth-oriented organizations have financial literacy programs and curricula, and their local chapters could be good partners for your work with students and families. Many resources are also available through their websites.

4-H

  • My Financial Future offers materials for middle school, high school and parents. Click the appropriate age range to choose the resources you want to view.

Junior Achievement

  • JA Programs: A range of possibilities for elementary to high school introduce financial literacy, personal finance, job skills, entrepreneurship and more.

Books About Money

American Library Association

 U.S. News & World Report

Financial Literacy of U.S. Adults

According to the 2017 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey,1

  • Less than half of respondents (40 percent) have a budget and keep track of their finances.
  • More than a quarter of respondents (27 percent) save no portion of their income for retirement.
  • Many people find credit cards hard to manage: 39 percent carry debt from month to month; 7 percent made late payments during the past year; 8 percent were rejected when they applied for a new card.

According to the 2015 Financial Capability Report,2

  • Adult spending: 40 percent spend less than they earn; 38 percent spend the same as they earn; 18 percent spend more than they earn.
  • Half of adults don’t have enough money set aside to cover expenses for three months.
  • Less than half of families with children (41 percent) set aside money for college.
  • Education affects financial security: 39 percent of people with high school or less education can make ends meet, as compared to 45 percent of people with some college education and 60 percent of people with a college degree or more.

Student Financial Literacy

According to the 2015 PISA3 administration, which included U.S. students among the 15-year-olds tested on financial literacy,

  • Overall, students from low-income backgrounds scored one proficiency level lower than their advantaged peers. At least 20 percent of students performed below the proficiency baseline.
  • Of U.S. students, more than half scored at level 3 or lower (out of 5 levels) in 2015, and U.S. scores remained flat between the 2012 and 2015 administrations.
  • Immigrant students scored 26 points lower than native-born students of similar economic backgrounds, and students from minority backgrounds scored significantly lower than White students.
  • Students with high financial literacy scores reported being twice as likely to complete higher education than their low-performing peers.

1 National Foundation for Credit Counseling

2 FINRA Investor Education Foundation

3 Programme for International Student Assessment

Quick Guide

This guide has ideas and information 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs can use to build the basics of financial literacy into program activities. Download the guide by clicking the link below. 

Quick Guide to Financial Literacy