FCN On Tour: Los Angeles

Leaders from Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), financial institutions, foundations, and other members of the Financial Capability Network (FCN) recently joined EVERFI at FCN On Tour: LA.  Guests mingled and discussed the education climate over cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres at the historic Hotel Figueroa in downtown Los Angeles. The progressive hotel was founded nearly a century ago as a women’s business hotel and has earned a reputation as a gathering place for forward-thinkers and creatives–an inspiring site for this meeting of public/private community stakeholders.

Capri Maddox, Senior Executive Director of Partnerships at LAUSD, spoke to the crowd about her decision to leave the city attorney’s office to work for the district.  “The kids of LA Unified and other under-served districts have serious needs,” she said. “We have a crisis in many ways in our schools, from crime to financial illiteracy.  It’s like swimming upstream–this is where the greatest need is.” LAUSD is the second largest school district in the country and one of the most high-poverty; 80% of its students are on free or reduced lunch and more than 17,000 students are currently homeless.

LAUSD recently announced its commitment to bringing EVERFI’s digital financial capability curriculum to 190 district high schools over the next three years, with the financial support of City National Bank and the California Council on Economic Education.  The course uses interactive lessons and tools to teach students about key personal finance topics, such as budgeting, credit and debt, insurance, and financing higher education. So far, it is being used by 58 high schools throughout the district, reaching over 13,000 students.

“Availability is the best ability,” said Maddox to program supporters in the room, “and you have made financial literacy available to our kids.  LA Unified is strong because of our partners. A lot of people come around talking about what the problem is, but you all talk about the solution.”

Former Member of Congress and President & CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, Steve Bartlett, highlighted the flexible, turn-key nature of EVERFI’s digital platform, which has made scalability across 25,000 U.S. schools possible.  However, he reminded the crowd that there are still tens of thousands of schools in the country that need this program and sponsors to underwrite it for them.

Addressing the banks and credit unions in the room, Bartlett predicted that Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations are going to become even more of a priority of banking agencies.  “One change you can absolutely count on this year is that CRA is going to be a focus. There will be more of an emphasis on financial education and on outcomes, specifically,” he said. “The FDIC isn’t just going to ask what you did.  The question now is going to be, ‘What did you do to change lives?’”

FCN members include hundreds of financial institutions, foundations, educators, elected officials, and other thought leaders committed to building empowered and financially capable communities.  The annual flagship FCN event is a two-day gathering hosted in Washington, D.C. with more intimate “on tour” offshoot events throughout the year in other U.S. cities and Puerto Rico.  

To learn more about the work of the Financial Capability Network, click here.