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 key 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.
Once upon a time, Tim Ranzetta taught in a California high school where most students would become the first in their family to attend college. The intrinsic rewards were considerable, often including disengaged students perking up at the mention of a personal finance lesson—like student debt–that was relevant to their life. He even saw some of his lessons trickle to parents. It gave him an appreciation of the need for financial education on a broad scale.
“For me, it’s a social justice issue,” Ranzetta says. “If teens don’t become financially literate their lives will be much harder. I wanted to have an impact beyond the classroom.”
After a successful run in the private sector, where he pioneered student loan analysis among other things, Ranzetta marshaled is own resources and launched Next Gen Personal Finance, a nonprofit dedicated to providing free and comprehensive personal finance materials to teachers.
“I experienced first hand the challenges financial literacy teachers face and I wanted to make their lives easier by creating turnkey resources they could rely on,” Ranzetta says. “I wanted to have a broader impact for hundreds of thousands of kids by helping them develop their own financial capabilities.”
As I construct lessons for my students, NextGen is always a go-to resource. NGPF podcasts are entertaining and informative, and feature top financial literacy experts. I enjoy listening to them on my drive home from work. The teaching resources can plug into your own work or stand alone. NextGen’s blended learning lessons are ideal for teachers just getting started in this field as well as for experienced teachers looking to refresh their curriculum.
NextGen is especially good at monitoring financial innovation and identifying skills the next generation will need to manage money, and quickly building appropriate lessons. The organization’s Project and Activity Banks feature more than 100 engaging ways for students to apply their understanding of key concepts. The organization’s Fine Print tool helps students understand common financial agreements such as those with checking accounts and credit cards.
Managing money is a skill, not a multiple-choice test. NextGen offers a variety of assessments to evaluate a student’s ability to put into practice key financial concepts. NextGen Case Studies require students to make decisions with incomplete information from a variety of perspectives including that of credit counselor, a friend and a college-bound high school senior.
Professional development is a pillar of the program. NextGen recently funded the Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy graduate-level educator training program, which empowers high school teachers with the confidence, skills and tools to bring personal finance education into the classroom. The organization underwrites one-day “fincamps,” where teachers create, collaborate and deepen their content knowledge.
NextGen also offers dozens of scholarships for teachers to attend the Jump$tart National Educator Conference each year and provides 12 scholarships each year to teachers attending the NGPF Summer Institute in Palo Alto, where they engage in a professional learning community.
To learn more about Next Gen Personal Finance visit their website or follow them on @NextGenPF.
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