Center for Financial Literacy Annual Report
Letter from the Director
Financial literacy education, like Michael J. Fox in the 1985 hit movie, is going "Back to the Future." From the late 1800s through the 1940s, mathematics textbooks in the United States typically included lessons based on personal finances. In the 1950s, this practical application of math disappeared. Since the Great Recession, there has been an increasing recognition nationally-once again-that personal finance knowledge is an essential life skill for our middle school, high school and college students.
Most states, including Vermont, have adopted the Common Core State Standards for mathematics and language arts, to be implemented by 2015. These new education standards require students to think mathematically about real-world issues. What's more real than creating a budget, getting a credit card, applying for a loan and saving for retirement? Our nation has a unique opportunity to leverage the standards to provide critical skills to our youth.
While we celebrate our second anniversary, the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College (CFL) is proud to be at the forefront of this focus, as more communities in Vermont and other states consider incorporating financial literacy into secondary-school and college classrooms. The educators who completed the Vermont Teachers Financial Literacy Summer Institute, one of our signature programs, are providing financial sophistication skills to about 4,000 middle and high school students this academic year.
Accomplishments That Power Us Forward
The CFL's mission is strongly supported by parents of Champlain College students, as well as parents and teachers of Vermont middle school and high school pupils. Our ideas clearly have grassroots appeal, because our programs and initiatives are gaining momentum in Vermont and elsewhere. For 2012, these are some of our accomplishments, which you'll read more about in this report:
- the second Vermont Teachers Financial Literacy Summer Institute
- White House recognition and the Center's participation in the White House Summit on Financial Capability and Empowerment
- media recognition for the CFL, including a new MarketWatch column, as well as a social media strategy with Facebook (CFLatChamplainCollege) and Twitter (@ChampFinLit)
- a personal finance fair and other educational events for students at Champlain College
- a high school financial literacy pilot program with national implications
Building Big Plans For 2013 and Beyond
Our achievements help us move forward in a dynamic way. As the Center's reputation and influence grow nationally, we're pursuing plans to reach out to more teachers and students-at high schools and colleges-and to adults to accomplish our goals. In 2013, we plan to launch many of these initiatives:
- establishing a financial literacy action plan for Vermont (with two-thirds of the funding raised, we're close to starting this project
- developing an online version of the teachers' summer institute after a successful pilot project in South Carolina, and offering this class in continuing education and master's degree credit formats
- offering in-person summer institute programs in other states in New England
- procuring a grant that will give an innovative life-simulation video game on personal finance to all Vermont high schools
- creating a personal finance assessment test for high schools nationwide with a proven third-party validation study
- coordinating with Champlain College's Emergent Media Center and a national partner on the development of a personal finance video game or other learning application
- producing free personal finance educational videos for the Web with support from a national partner
Your Involvement Makes Everything Possible
It's hard to beat recognition from the White House, affirmation that's invaluable to any organization. And once again, CFL's achievements received fantastic widespread national media attention. These acknowledgements underscore the important charge-and opportunity-we have as one of the few higher education-affiliated centers of this type in the country. The backing of Champlain President Dave Finney, the Center's advisory board, and Vermont's state government and business community have helped ensure our progress in the past year.
We need your attention, too. Only with your support can we continue to make an impact. Your support enables us to pursue pioneering initiatives that help expand financial literacy to those who benefit most-everyone. A more financially sophisticated population is beneficial to each of us. We count on individual, corporate and foundation donors, in addition to grants. Please be part of our community of allies, and advocate with us for personal finance education for all. Thank you for your sustained, and sustaining, interest in the Center.
John Pelletier, Director
The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College