Why Teaching Financial Literacy Matters

Money management is an essential part of each person’s life. Twenty-one years ago, I started SFE&PD because young people from underserved communities weren’t being taught personal finance. I witnessed too many bright young people who could not manage their finances and as a result, dropped out of college and/or ended up in debt.

That is why SFE&PD teaches students, primarily at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), important money management concepts that enable them to become economically secure and financially successful. Over the years, SFE&PD has branched out to help educate people of all ages and backgrounds about financial matters. Reaching young people, however, remains our priority.  Last year, we started a new initiative, The SFE&PD Student Ambassadors Project, where we train HBCU college students to instruct their peers about financial literacy in engaging student-centered methods. Currently, we are working with 11 schools on this exciting peer-to-peer learning model and hope to double this over the next year. Students are taught about investing, student loan debt, budgeting, credit, establishing goals, saving for retirement and more.

Financial literacy provides a vital foundation for economic independence and health. Individuals who understand how to use financial knowledge and strategies grow their wealth most effectively. Yet less than half of the American population has a basic understanding of financial planning.  The learning curve for Millennials is worse – 76 percent have a poor understanding of financial literacy concepts yet make up the largest share of the U.S. labor force (35 percent). Clearly, we have a national learning gap seriously impacting people’s financial lives. I’m proud to work with dedicated colleagues on the front lines of financial literacy advocacy.  We agree – until more Americans, especially Millennials and those in underserved communities, gain equal access to financial management tools, our work is not done. Contact me at tdaniels@sfepd.org to learn about SFE&PD’s educational efforts!