These State Treasurers are Leading the Charge for Financial Literacy
By Jeanne Doran
May 19, 2017
Among African-Americans and women who experience gaps in employment, and may be getting left behind financially speaking, about a third of their disadvantage stems from poor financial literacy, Wharton School research shows.
Good money habits like saving regularly, and avoiding late fees and high-cost alternative borrowing can go a long way towards shoring up personal finances. Now a handful of state treasurers are pushing innovative financial education programs as a potential fix.
In Connecticut, Treasurer Denise L. Nappier has teamed with the state’s Association for Human Services to support the Connecticut Money School, a project that provides financial education workshops to minorities and low-income communities.
In Massachusetts, Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg launched the Women’s Economic Empowerment Series, which provides free educational sessions that focus on financial issues relevant to women, such as negotiating equal pay. After two pilot sessions, three-fourths of attendees said they would apply what they learned to their own finances, and 69% said they were going to share the information with other women.
In Nevada, the treasurer’s office hosts a Money Conference every year. More than 2,500 women have been trained in basic financial principles and have access to mentors.
Various state treasurers are working with the private sector to integrate financial education into public school curriculums, replicating models that have proven successful in Tennessee, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina and Vermont.
These efforts point to a growing recognition that economic inequality is a serious concern, and that financial education is one way to address the problem. Over the past seven years, the gap between male and female poverty has widened. Single women are paid only 79 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same position. Among African-Americans, unemployment rates today are similar to those of others during the worst part of the recession.
These are issues that must be tackled at a policy level. But states can easily address a general lack of financial literacy training, and in so doing make a meaningful dent in the disadvantages at the heart of some peoples’ struggles. State treasurers seem to understand.
“Financial literacy is a form of financial freedom,” says Kentucky treasurer Allison Ball. Last month, she led an effort to promote financial literacy in her state with daily social media posts about sound money practices.
For more on state treasurers and financial literacy: