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Fidelity, UC offer virtual training for teachers on financial literacy so students can be money-wise

By Maridith Yahl
NKyTribune reporter

Fifty educators from the region are participating in a four-part virtual training series on financial literacy with Fidelity Investments and the University of Cincinnati Alpaugh Family Economics Center.

This unique approach to improving student financial literacy works by increasing teacher knowledge and confidence while engaging stakeholders and employees in this important work.

“Fidelity Investments is committed to serving the community in two areas, the areas of financial literacy and education. What we know is that students need a strong educational base in order to then build on financial literacy concepts,” says Megan Wolfer, Manager, Community Relations, Fidelity Investments.

Megan Wolfer

At Fidelity, providing financial expertise for customers is what they do best. For this educators training, they are using that same concept to teach the teachers who will then help empower their students, says Wolfer.

Financial literacy training is in great need. Research indicates that only 27% of young adults have a basic understanding of financial literacy. Those who lack this basic knowledge are less likely to be financially secure as adults.

Households or individuals who are less financially literate are more likely to take payday loans, pay only the minimum balance on a credit card, take on high-cost mortgages, have higher debt levels, and are behind on debt.

Fidelity Investments began this program in 2015. Nationally they have trained over 2,600 teachers, reaching 275,000 students. Locally, 200 teachers have gone through training, impacting 20,000 students in the Commonwealth.

The training prepares teachers to help students meet the financial literacy high school graduation requirement for Kentucky schools KRS 158.1411, which goes into effect this school year.

“We are so fortunate to have a great partner in Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball. She is so committed to advancing financial literacy work in this region. Treasurer Ball really sees this offering, this virtual personal finance workshop, as a great way to prepare teachers and support teachers on this journey,” says Wolfer.

Stephanie Turner, a teacher for Grant County Schools, sees a huge need for this for her high school students. She says they are at the age of just getting jobs and need to learn to budget. They just want to go out and spend their earnings and not save, she says.

When her students get a significant paycheck, it burns a hole in their pocket.

“They want to spend that money, but just talking to them about saving that money, maybe save so you can buy a car, or save so you can get your first apartment, or just that saving aspect,” says Turner.

She now has the tools and resources to explain budgeting and other concepts to her students.

“Being able to teach them some of this financial literacy and savings and about credit cards and about loans and things of that sort is really good to help our future America in as far as financial stability,” Turner says.

Stephanie Turner

Turner did not have a program like this when she was in school. This is exciting for her to learn and be able to take it back to her students. She has been utilizing all the training sessions, not just those required, getting all the resources provided. She is working hard to get the most out of this opportunity.

“I want to get the most out of this course so I can bring it back to my school,” says Turner. “We talk about real-life situations but we don’t actually talk about what happens after we graduate, and how we manage our money, and how do we make these goals, and how do we budget.”

Additionally, more rigorous financial education leads to positive behavioral formation and better outcomes, such as improved credit scores and lower credit delinquency.

In Kentucky, only 30% of individuals can answer four or five questions on a basic five-question financial literacy quiz correctly. Furthermore, 46% of individuals lack a rainy-day fund.

This year’s program in Covington is the launch of a pilot which will be a national virtual program, Wolfer says. Teachers come together in a virtual environment utilizing a collaborative online learning platform.

There they learn financial education concepts, including how best to introduce this subject to students, while expanding the teachers’ understanding of financial concepts. This is done through live sessions, panel presentations, and interactive games and activities. Working with others in the program, they learn how to apply what they learn to curriculum.

“Our support for teachers doesn’t end with this program, our commitment to them certainly doesn’t conclude at [the conclusion of this program]. We are supporting them in the classroom as well, so there will be opportunities for teachers, like Stephanie, to connect virtually,” says Wolfer.

95% of teachers who participated in past training said it helped them better instruct students on financial education topics.

“It’s talking about making those smart habits and making the investments and savings and emergency funds and things that people don’t really think about, especially a teenage student or a young kid,” says Turner.

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