Key Resource: National Endowment for Financial Education
By Brian Page
April 6, 2017
April is financial literacy month, which always stirs debate over how to best teach kids about money in school. This week, Right About Money contributor and award-winning personal finance teacher Brian Page highlights nonprofits that are making a difference. These organizations offer valuable, free financial literacy resources. We urge educators, thought leaders and others to share this Key Resource series and help the financial literacy movement build from the ground up.
In a lesson on identifying wants vs. needs a young student once told me his cell phone was a need. Of course, I quickly disagreed. That’s when the youngster explained to me that his Mom was raising three children without the father. She relied on him to pick up his younger siblings after school, get them dinner, and sometimes escort them to activities while she worked. Decisions needed to be made on the fly. Without his cell phone, it just would not work. I was the one who learned something that day.
That’s when I discovered the resources at the National Endowment for Financial Education. Teachers shouldn’t project their values onto students. Kids can discover their own values and how they impact financial decisions through the NEFE Life Values Quiz, which is based on rigorous academic research from consumer finance expert Lois A. Vitt.
Research shows that four categories of human values correspond to people’s concerns in life: inner, social, financial, and physical. NEFE’s free 20-question quiz gives students a glimpse into these values and how they guide decisions. NEFE also offers the Financial Identity Quiz, a 12-question assessment designed to help young adults understand the impact of their decisions on the path to financial independence.
NEFE is a nonprofit dedicated to empowering individuals’ and families’ financial decision making through every stage of life. The organization is committed to providing financial education for people at all income levels. My focus here is on a handful of its youth financial education resources and training tools for teachers. But NEFE also provides adult financial education resources, workplace training tools, research, and consumer surveys.
NEFE’s High School Financial Planning Program is turnkey financial literacy instruction focused on personal finance issues relevant to teens. The program annually reaches more than 800,000 students. Its content aligns with national academic standards related to personal finance. All online and printed materials are noncommercial, unbiased and available at no cost. Student workbooks also are available at no cost.
For college-age students NEFE offers CashCourse, a real-life guide to building life-long financial skills. The program is being offered through more than 1,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. Additionally, NEFE has built a workshop resource center to provide educators with the tools to reach the unique needs of various audiences. Financial Workshop Kits offers presentations, scripts, handouts and other resources to effectively teach money management skills.
A recent update to Smart About Money consists of five online mini-tutorials for teachers to get acquainted with the fundamentals of insurance, investing, employment, spending and saving, and borrowing. According to research, we need more and better teacher training in personal finance. These free online courses let teachers learn at their own pace and on their own schedule.
NEFE is now finalizing a series of 90-minute courses called SAM: Size up your situation, Analyze your habits, Make your plan. Each topic will speak to the needs of everyday folks, much like My Financial Well-Being Plan. SAM is a series of free online courses that allow users to learn at their own pace. They are ideal for teachers that may need to brush up on their content knowledge. The online course collects no personal information. NEFE recognizes that your personal finances are personal, says Susan Sharkey, a director with the organization.
When the full course is available I will reconnect with Sharkey and go into more detail for Right About Money. To learn more about NEFE visit their website or follow them on @NEFE_Org.
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