Wednesday, 25 February 2015 19:41

How One Nonprofit is Changing Financial Education Featured

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Our school systems are responsible for shaping the minds of our youth and molding them into working class citizens. They are taught about history, math, and even how to be physically active. A very important “life skill” is often missed entirely by our education system. I have wondered for years why our schools do not “arm” their students with basic information regarding personal finances.

DoughMain Education Foundation Financial Literacy

Financial literacy is an extremely valuable asset. Managing your finances successfully can determine if you sink or swim. Helping the youth build financial skills can be beneficial for their future success. The DoughMain Education Foundation is doing just that, providing educational materials and interactive curriculum for students to help become financially literate.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with them as to how they are going to change this vicious cycle and have an impact on the students of today and on students going forward into the future. Working in the finance field, I see how valuable a nonprofit organization like this could be to our youth. It is a game changer for the students of today and their financial future. This organization is truly inspiring and going to change the way financial education is done in our school systems. 

Why do you think financial education is not a priority in K- 12?

Schools are required to meet standards for education which include core curriculum content standards, workplace readiness standards and the more recent common core standards. The major focus of standardized testing and the ways in which we evaluate schools and teaching have centered around reading, math, science and geography. Nothing in this list about financial education.

Many schools are resource challenged and finding quality curriculum is difficult. With so many pressures placed on them, schools are forced to piece together elements that were not originally developed as a comprehensive curriculum. Additionally the current model has individuals from banking institutions going into schools for 10-12 hours to help teach and then discuss their products. With this, gaps are naturally created and the focus become muddled.

The best model is for teachers to do what they do best and that is understanding the principles of teaching and utilizing their education and experience to teach their students. DMEF also provides more than 1,000 pp slides of Teacher-the-Teacher content that was developed by and for teachers that will eventually evolve into webinar to provide educational reinforcement

How important do you think financial education is to the youth of today?

As a student, were you taught personal financial management, the ability to budget, understand how interest works, the benefits of savings and investing, and how to develop good practices with regard to money management? Probably not but this can change with your children by providing opportunities for them to learn money management skills at an early age. Good personal financial management skills and practices also affect our communities as we serve as consumers, investors and in some cases, entrepreneurs.

How did the idea for the DoughMain Education Foundation come about?

In the wake of the 2008 global recession, the DoughMain Education Foundation (DMEF) was founded over a three-year period of extensive discussion and planning among New Jersey parents, educators and entrepreneurs with a focus on promoting lifelong financial literacy, responsibility, and ethical financial behavior among youth.  When core financial education standards began emerging across the country, many resource-challenged school districts struggled to implement them.  Through discussions with educators, the group determined that if substantive, core-compliant, easily-implemented curricula, supportive materials, and teacher support could be developed and made available to school districts across the country, the group’s core objective in providing direct support of a lasting nature to schools and their students nationwide would be met.

What is the vision for DMEF?

The mission of DoughMain Education Foundation (DMEF) is to build financial literacy in students through student centered, multi-sensory programs delivered directly to schools and homes at no cost. We believe their engaging program and visionary approach promotes sustained learning and provides educators the opportunity to address the needs of the individual learner using relevant and relatable curricula.

We envision that with good financial support they can continue to maintain continuous improvement methods and expand the implementation of their “FitKit” High School Youth Financial Literacy Program to more schools.  Development of  “FitKit” programs for elementary and middle school levels are in the works as well.

How is the foundation changing the way we educate our youth on financial literacy?

Over the past several years, DMEF has conducted research and pilots at both the high school and elementary school levels. We wanted to utilize a standards-based approach that also provided relevant and relatable content to make the lessons engaging. They looked at multiple intelligences and how children learn differently: (Linguistic, Logical Mathematical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Spatial, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Musical and Naturalistic), and then included elements within their curriculum that speaks to each type of learner. It is truly incredible to when “the lights go” and students begin to grasp and understand concepts.

The “FitKit” includes original videos with likable characters, provides situational awareness related to personal financial management and an overall great vibe for learners. Curriculum materials are relatable and sometimes humorous, their gaming approach supports discovery and competition, while journaling or blogging allows for reflection and testing the students hypotheses.

Student and teacher background information, over 1,000 pages of Teach-the-Teacher content that provides teaching points, gaming and hands on activities to reinforce learning, and assessments to track and support learning. Developed by educators and industry experts for today's classroom

How can millennials support this organization and spread their vision?

Quite Frankly, by making a contribution to their organization. In addition, by supporting the institutions they are affiliated with or by volunteering with organizations that support financial literacy education.

Educating our youth is extremely important for their future. Helping DMEF with their mission could change the way our youth view their finances. Take the time to donate or educate yourself. We can truly make a difference one step at a time!

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