Thought Leadership Thursday
Celebrating Financial Literacy Month
Thought Leadership Thursday Article
April is Financial Literacy Month and is a great opportunity to showcase the important work your state is doing around financial literacy and empowerment. We all have stories to share – I’ve seen what many of you are doing on NAST’s State’s Financial Education Program Census, which highlights the programs available in each state.
We are just getting started in Michigan. We have been working to build partnerships and promote financial empowerment for all ages and stages of life. The Michigan Department of Treasury has taken the lead, in collaboration with several other state agencies ― including the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, the Department of Insurance and Financial Services, the Department of Education ― and many nonprofit associations to host regional Financial Empowerment Forums under the brand “MI Financial Empowerment.” Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor, Garlin Gilchrist II, has also taken a lead role in promoting this critical work.
For those of you who may also be in the early stages of financial literacy, getting started doesn’t have to be overwhelming. NAST’s resources and toolkits are incredibly helpful to start the conversation about financial literacy and empowerment in your state.
Our journey in Michigan started with one forum! We had about 150 people from various walks of life join together to talk about why access to financial empowerment resources was important for all ages and stages of Michiganders and what we can do to be an advocate of these concepts. Participants at the forum included high school and college administrators who paired up to create a pilot program for area youth.
During this pilot, high school students will enroll in a Personal Finance course concurrently with their local community college, gaining valuable financial life skills while earning college credit. This pilot program provides a roadmap so we can help our youth plan a budget, save money, plan for taxes, and buy insurance. Students who take this class will have a better understanding to make well-considered financial goals and the knowledge necessary to achieve those goals. If successful, the plan is to roll this curriculum out to other community colleges across the state so they can offer it to their local high school students as well.
How can you get started? Identify the agencies, non-profit associations, and other stakeholders in your state and start the conversation. What does financial literacy/empowerment mean to your state? How does it connect with your state’s vision for the future? What audience do you want to engage first? What resources are available to share with that audience? Getting the right people at the table and answering these questions is all it takes to begin the conversation and start developing a plan.
I’m proud to lead this effort for Michigan and to promote financial empowerment for all ages and stages through my involvement with NAST’s Financial Education & Empowerment Committee. If you haven’t already, check out NAST’s Financial Literacy Month Toolkit and let’s work together to education and empower others.