Bringing Financial Education To 1,200 Classrooms In 60 Days
By Tim Ranzetta
May 26, 2017
At Next Gen Personal Finance, we set a goal this spring to bring activities and projects into 1,000 new classrooms. Our experience leading workshops had demonstrated the power of trial. Getting educators to spend 15 minutes trying our website using a Scavenger Hunt had a powerful effect, as we often heard comments like, “I wish I knew about you sooner” or “this will save me SOOOOO much time!”
We grappled with a big question: Who could we partner with to get more teachers to try our projects and activities? We know that only 20% of high school students graduate with any personal finance education, so we wanted to act quickly.
DonorsChoose.org turned out to be a perfect fit. Founded in 2000 by Bronx schoolteacher Charles Best, DonorsChoose.org makes it simple for public school teachers to request materials and experiences for their students.
What we accomplished in 60 days has been amazing. Teachers in 1,200 classrooms in 48 states (we missed you Dakotas!) brought an engaging NGPF personal finance activity to over 26,000 students. Each classroom received $100 in DonorsChoose.org credits that they will apply to projects in their classrooms. As we sifted through the teacher submissions, the evidence became clear: High school teachers in all subject areas hunger for real-world, relevant and engaging ways to provide financial education to their students.
We expected this project would be attractive to educators in economics, personal finance, family and consumer science, CTE and business. Yet when we crunched the numbers we discovered some startling facts. Only 33% fit into these categories. Educators in almost every discipline found a way to infuse personal finance activities into their classrooms.
In all, there were teachers in over 150 subject areas that completed an NGPF activity, from Special Education to Advanced Placement. The most popular activities teachers selected:
Interactive: Living Paycheck to Paycheck
Fine Print: Reading Your Pay Stub
Project: Budgeting with Roommates
Data Crunch: What Do College Grads Want In a Job?
Data Crunch: Why Should You Invest When You Are Young?
Why do educators from diverse subject areas deliver personal finance education to their students? Here’s what a few told us:
Science Teacher using NGPF’s Fine Print: Reading Your Pay Stub: “Your resources came at a time when I needed something simple to illustrate the concepts of net and gross primary productivity. Whenever we get to this topic, kids have a tough time understanding what gross and net mean. The best analogy using the same terminology is a pay stub. I felt this activity, in less than 15 minutes had the power to make this happen.”
Business Teacher using multiple NGPF Activities and Projects: “As a teacher, the best aspect of this resource was the way it covered skills across our entire curriculum. The resources made it easy to implement higher order thinking, group activities, student centered, and hands on activities simultaneously.
Math Teacher using NGPF’s Project: Budgeting With Roommates: “I absolutely loved that this sparked so much discussion around what they’re like as roommates, what they care about, what they value, what they think are non-negotiables when living on your own. My students were having arguments about parking spaces, bedrooms, and even cable.”
AP Spanish Teacher using a Spanish translation of NGPF’s Project: Budgeting With Roommates: “Being able to provide my students with useful vocabulary in a practical real-world situation is very important to communicate in a second language. My students learned words for things like paying bills, what different utilities are called, and scheduling terms.”
Our partnership with DonorsChoose.org has been transformational in how we think about increasing access to personal finance education. We now know that there is an untapped army of educators that wants to bring more real-world financial activities to their students. We look forward to mobilizing them in the months and years ahead.