Laying the Groundwork for Financial Capability

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a comprehensive report outlining a new teaching framework for educators and organizations to utilize as they create programs around building up youth financial capability. Many of the recommendations included in the report are considered education best practice and have long been a part of EverFi’s curriculum development model. Statistics from a recent EverFi study reveal that 9 out of 10 parents talk to their kids about personal finances, but only 43% of those parents feel prepared to do so, and that 66% of millennials cannot answer basic financial wellness questions. As such, the CFPB’s recommendations represent a monumental opportunity to impact change.

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Download Our Guide to Understanding Family Financial Capability

At EverFi, we have always operated from the belief that our goal is to shape financial habits and norms while also building financial knowledge and decision-making skills. Together these goals have been two of the most important and longstanding levers used to influence financial capability. Our elementary, middle, and high school courses use many of CFPB’s recommended teaching techniques to introduce and reinforce these important concepts. From simulation to personalized learning and gamification, our courses strive to engage and empower students to become financially capable adults.

While the CFPB also stresses executive function as an important building block to help youth achieve financial capability, we have learned at EverFi that this is not often something that can be influenced by supplemental programming. It’s true that executive functioning is a prerequisite to success in financial well-being, as it is in every domain of life; however, it is best developed through supportive and nurturing environments and positive socialization. To truly build executive function requires year-round programming that is integrated into multiple areas of the curriculum and a child’s home environment.130603_cfpb_mahaskey_605

The CFPB’s report also highlights the central role that parents and caregivers play in developing youth financial knowledge, attitudes, and decision-making abilities. Through both direct instruction and modeling healthy financial behavior, parents and caregivers can help children develop responsible habits when it comes to spending and saving.

EverFi is committed to providing adult learners with foundational financial knowledge. Our adult course is built on the same core pedagogical foundation as our K-12 offering, but has been adapted to the more complex needs of an adult learner.  It provides adult learners with personalized and interactive learning to drive behavior change. Strengthening the financial knowledge of adults in turn creates home and community environments that help students build healthy financial attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. This report validates EverFi’s future plan to develop a program specifically designed to help parents or caregivers speak with their children about finances, thus improving the executive function deemed important for youth financial capability.

Now is a pivotal time for financial institutions, government organizations, and technology companies to partner and empower teachers, parents and caregivers with the knowledge they need to develop students of all ages into financially responsible adults. We at EverFi are thrilled to share the CFPB’s commitment to this goal and look forward to our continued partnering with organizations to help achieve its recommendations.

Zach Wagner, Vice President, K-12 Content and Product Development
Julia McCombs, Vice President, Adult Content and Product Development

EverFi and CFPB Present Tips for Strengthening Financial Education Curriculum

Family Financial Capability White PaperNew EverFi research finds that 9 out of 10 parents are talking to their kids about money, but fewer than half of parents feel well prepared to have these conversations.

While parental education is an important piece of the equation, schools-based financial education is critical to filling in the gaps and ultimately preparing students for the decisions they’ll need to make as adults. But for many educators, the challenge of selecting the right financial education curriculum for their students can feel daunting, with a wide range of providers and few guidelines for how to identify the most promising programs.

To address this challenge, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has developed the Youth Financial Education Curriculum Review Tool, a resource for those who make decisions about educating today’s students. The tool provides an evidence-based framework for reviewing and comparing financial education curricula across four key dimensions: Content, Quality, Utility and Efficacy.

Earlier this spring, the CFPB hosted a webinar to unveil the curriculum review tool and invited EverFi to share how we’re using it to assess our K-12 financial education curricula. We were proud to report that our courses performed exceptionally well, receiving the highest possible score on the Content and Quality metrics, and strong results across other key dimensions.

For a recap of how EverFi’s K-12 courses performed,  view the full CFPB webinar recording: Evidence-Based Insights: Tips for Strengthening Financial Education Curriculum (or view a shorter recap here).

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The Curriculum Review Tool has also proven a valuable resource in helping inform future course improvements. For example, we are building supplemental materials to help teachers adapt lessons for students with cognitive or intellectual disabilities and expanding support for multilingual implementation.

On #FinHealthMatters Day, let’s focus on developing financial education solutions that will truly move the needle for students and families nationwide. We’re grateful to the CFPB for putting a stake in the ground and creating a yardstick by which we can measure programs – and progress – in the field.

Student Blog Contest Winner

Our final student blog post of the 2015-2016 school year comes from middle schooler Eowyn M of Maine. Eowyn writes that the Vault – Understanding Money™ course taught her to make good financial decisions now, in order to help her achieve her dreams in the future. Thank you, Eowyn, for sharing your story with us!

Student: Eowyn M
Teacher: Haley Harwood
School: Westbrook Middle School
State: Maine
Sponsor: MassMutual Foundation

Vault helped me figure out how to achieve my dream. My dream is to own my own animal shelter. I plan to buy a house, and have the animal shelter on the first floor, and my living space on the second floor. I would only take hurt animals and lost animals in my shelter because it’s not fair to take animals out of their habitat. Take lizard for example. That lizard would be better off with his family in the wild. Maybe we wouldn’t feed him right or he wouldn’t be happy and would die of depression, loneliness, or anxiety. All those things we would have to consider in my animal shelter.

Vault helped me realize how I plan to run my business when I grow up. It helped me look at it a different way, and see how running your own business isn’t as easy as it sounds. Vault helped me with knowing good ways to save and spend my money. Like putting aside some cash to save for a business or college in the future. I plan to go to the University of New England for college. Vault also helped me with knowing which decisions are smart, and which decisions weren’t. Vault also helped me out by telling me what things are needs and what are wants. That will really come in handy when I start to think about buying a house for the shelter. I will need to be really responsible with my money. 

Because of Vault, I went home and asked my mom to set up a savings account for my animal shelter and college and we did! Now whenever I receive money, I put it in my savings account to use it to help me with my future in taking care of animals.

Recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  And while it’s a sunny June day here in Washington DC, the topic of Elder Financial Exploitation is a forecast of some very rough weather ahead.

The problem of financial exploitation of seniors is scary, and is getting scarier.  Today, there are 40 million Americans over the age of 65 — the largest in history, and the number will grow over the next ten years. According to the True Link Report on Elder Abuse, up to $36 billion (with a “b”) is lost by seniors in various forms of financial exploitation, and $17 billion of that is done through deceptive-but-legal tactics that are designed to promote financial mistakes by seniors.  Also, about half of the exploitation happens by other family members, which is disturbing and depressing.  The generation that is being scammed is especially vulnerable, since it is a polite generation (many do not want to hang up on phone scammers); trusting people (may fall prey to internet scams); and sometimes cognitively impaired (which can make someone especially helpless).  Sadly, there are literally call centers that are set up to scam seniors out of money, which can end up in horrifying results.

The CFPB recently posted guidelines and a report for financial institutions to help fight this problem.  The webinar they hosted on May 25 was a very helpful walkthrough of these guidelines.  Other government institutions are also paying more attention to this problem. It is clear to me that financial institutions are going to be a key defense for combating this problem.  However, not all financial institutions have quality resources available to them for their employees, older customers/members, and for adult caregivers of the elderly.  Many employees of financial institutions end up having three jobs: being a teller, a social worker, and a family counselor.  It is a lot to ask of them.

We are EverFi are working hard on this problem right now. Given the size and scope of this complex issue, it is clear that there will not be one single solution that eradicates this issue, but our goal is to make a big dent in it.  Just like our programs for adult financial education, we are going to partner with financial institutions, help them on the front lines, and get them the tools and resources they need.  I am so proud that we are taking on this terrifying, growing, and very personal issue.

To ‘celebrate’ World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, please take time to spread the word about Elder Financial Exploitation. Know that the storm is coming.  But also know that EverFi will be there to help you weather it.

Student Blog Contest Winner

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Michigan student Eric C who shares how the Ignition – Digital Literacy and Responsibility™ course taught him to think critically about the image he portrays of himself on the Internet. Congrats to Eric for being one of our student blog contest winners!

Student: Eric C
Teacher: Anthony Wright
School: Sterling Heights Senior High School
State: Michigan
Sponsor: NHL, NHLPA

With the ever increasing significance of technology in our daily lives, what we do online is making a bigger impact on our futures. The EverFi program has taught me about the potential consequences my choices may cause, through the engaging and interactive Ignition program.

For a while now, I’ve known that social media and text messaging can be a cause of controversy, especially when it comes to viral trends. However, I didn’t realize how quickly something as harmless as a picture or video could be spread to a larger audience, many of whom may be critical of the contents. I already knew that I could potentially hurt my chances of getting a job in the future, but I didn’t know the true scope of how far the damage would go.

After completing the Ignition course, I found myself with the challenge of deciding whether to post a risky status update online or not. At the time, it seemed like no harm would come from it, as most teenagers would do. However, I realized that the language and content of the message would be painting a less than ideal image of myself on the Internet. Because future employers and educational establishments will be able to see that, I decided against posting that status. Afterwards, I went back and edited all of my social media profiles, removing any questionable content, leaving behind a clean image of who I am and what I stand for.

Losing Hope for Prevention in the Greek Community? Not So Fast.

A recent research study that examined alcohol interventions targeting fraternity and sorority members has led to several news stories, many of which have over-sensationalized headlines, none of which outline the limitations of the study. While the study has several limitations you can read about here, it does highlight that many prevention efforts directed towards fraternity and sorority members do not reflect the evidence base or sound prevention theory. As suggested in the study, most programming directed at fraternity and sorority members has consisted of one-off trainings that are not part of a larger comprehensive prevention plan. When this type of programming fails, it only reinforces the negative perceptions of the Greek system that nothing can be done about these challenges.

To help prevention specialists who work with Greek organizations leverage the research literature and prevention best practice, EverFi created a guidebook titled “Leveraging Values and Challenging Misconceptions – Prevention Guidelines for Fraternities and Sororities.” This resource demonstrates there is an opportunity to leverage the positive attitudes and the values of these organizations to promote healthy behavior.

Despite the negative media attention fraternity and sorority organizations often receive, becoming a member of a Greek organization is a rewarding and enriching experience for millions of American college students. The benefits of joining a Greek organization are well documented: Greek members are more likely to enjoy their overall college experience, more likely to persist from their first to second year in college, and more likely to graduate than their non-Greek peers. These students also gain leadership experience, build professional networks, and give back to their community.

However, there is also substantial research indicating that members of Greek organizations are more likely to misuse alcohol, use illicit substances, and either perpetrate or become victims of relationship violence and sexual assault. While high-risk alcohol use, sexual violence, and hazing create visible incidents that draw negative attention and publicity to the Greek community, EverFi’s research indicates that these unhealthy behaviors represent a relatively small percentage of fraternity and sorority students.

Rather than consider prevention efforts with the Greek community to be a lost cause as media headlines suggest, institutions and organizations should rethink prevention within the Greek community. By educating students to speak out and empowering them to intervene against problematic behavior, prevention specialists are leveraging the healthy norms and values that most fraternity and sorority members endorse. In addition to giving the students a voice, administrators should apply prevention practices informed by data gathered from individual chapters and institutions, as well as sound behavioral theory and prevention science. EverFi’s guidebook provides practitioners a foundation to build upon and support the development of effective prevention efforts targeting fraternity and sorority members.

Student Blog Contest Winner

Today we’re featuring a guest post from California student Luis G who shares how EverFi – Financial Literacy™ helped him realize the benefits of keeping his money in a savings account rather than under his mattress. Congrats to Luis for being one of our student blog contest winners!

Student: Luis G
Teacher: Thu Nguyen
School: Middle College High School
State: California
Sponsor: Union Bank

My dreams for the future are to go to the University of California, Irvine and earn a business degree and get a career in the business world. The EverFi program has helped prepare me to achieve those goals by helping me save money through a variety of ways. Thanks to EverFi enhancing what I know about savings, I’ve been saving more money through the power of interest. I have a savings account, which at first may seem small, but it adds up later on. EverFi also has given me extra help for the financial aid application process for college. I knew very little, but thanks to EverFi it made it a simple and painless process. Not only that, but I gained a greater understanding of lifetime earnings when it comes to the education that you receive. That with higher degrees you would earn more money over the course of your lifetime. EverFi helped explain what subsidized and unsubsidized loans are which is a big help for me in the near future. Subsidized is the best option of the two because the federal government will help cover the interest I accumulated while I am still in school, unlike unsubsidized loans where I would be held fully responsible for paying all the interest that accumulates on my loan. The final way that EverFi has helped me is by helping me learn on how to invest in the future. It’s better to do something with the money than leave it all alone under my mattress where I gain nothing from it being there.

Student Blog Contest Winner

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Maryland student Jahzara T who shares how Radius – STEM Career Readiness™ helped her realize how math will help her achieve her career goals. Congrats to Jahzara for being one of our student blog contest winners!

Student: Jahzara T
Teacher: David Lai
School: Thomas Johnson Middle School
State: Maryland
Sponsor: American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)

In the future, I plan on working in any field related to science (specifically biology) and traveling the world. I also hope to earn a Ph.D. in college and complete missionary work within the environment in other countries. In order to complete these tasks, math will play a huge role. In our everyday lives, math is all around us. The EverFi Radius course helped me understand certain topics in math more and also introduced me to some key concepts that I have never learned before. In this program, I learned how to decrypt or encrypt binary numbers, different systems and networks, and also reviewed other skills, like using formulas involving pi and using the order of operations. Radius incorporates real-life scenarios to help me understand how different formulas or processes can be used in everyday life. Not only did it teach lessons about certain topics, but it also provided a list of careers that I could choose from. Even though examples from the real world were given, the program also found a way to make it fun to complete the activities. I was first assigned as an agent and could make a customized character. I was then given an agent file and a smartphone with applications to unlock as I completed certain modules. EverFi Radius was not only educational, but fun as well.

Student Blog Contest Winner

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Michigan student Emily L who shares how the EverFi – Financial Literacy™ course taught her that it’s important for every person to learn about personal finance, regardless of what career they want to pursue. Congrats to Emily for being one of our student blog contest winners!

Student: Emily L
Teacher: Christy McGee
School: Saline High School
State: Michigan
Sponsor: TCF Bank

Prior to going through the EverFi program I didn’t have a very good understanding of anything financial. Upon completion of this program, I gained a greater understanding of a variety of finance related topics. In essence, EverFi gave me a preview of what else is out there. The unknown is often intimidating, but this program showed me that the world of finance is nothing to fear, but rather something to embrace and even benefit from.

I used to be turned away by the topic of finance. I figured that since I do not want a career at a bank or something along those lines, I did not actually need to pay attention to such a topic. Wrong! We make financial choices all day long that could be detrimental if we aren’t aware of the impact they are making. I learned that financial mistakes can have a lasting impact. If EverFi hadn’t gone into detail about the hazards of using a credit card, it might not stick in my mind as something to be hyper aware of. Even though I still do not love learning about finance, I at least have a better idea of it and I know not to fear it.

Thanks to EverFi, I now put more thought into my purchases. Is it a need or a want? Is there something else I am saving up for? Those are common questions I ask myself more frequently after completing the program. In addition, I now take a couple dollars out of each paycheck I receive and put them in my savings account rather than deposit the whole paycheck into my checking account. I believe this is a smart choice that will benefit me in the future. I think that it is cool that EverFi influenced me to do so.

Announcing the Student Blog Contest Winners!

Thank you to the record number of students who submitted blog contest entries this year! We loved reading all the stories about how EverFi courses have had a positive impact on your lives, and we can’t wait to share them on the blog in the coming weeks. Congratulations winners!

Emily L, Saline High, Michigan

Jahzara T, Thomas Johnson Middle, Maryland

Luis G, Middle College High, California

Eric C, Sterling Heights Senior High, Michigan

Eowyn M, Westbook Middle, Maine