Educators must teach financial literacy

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Post-Gazette reporter Len Boselovic's recent article about youth and financial literacy sheds light on the sad reality that our children are not learning some of the most basic life skills. We couldn't agree more.

According to a recent survey by Junior Achievement and The AllState Foundation, teens say they lack the understanding or education to budget, manage credit or invest for their future.

Many teens say they will not be financially independent from their parents and likely will not even live on their own until age 25 or older because they are not confident in their ability to manage money. As the recent PG article ("Heard Off the Street: Youths want financial literacy on syllabus," April 14) made clear, they are not learning these skills in school, and an alarming number of teens say their parents don't talk with them enough about finances.

After five years of high unemployment and with more and more Americans dropping out of the labor force after failing to find work, the need to ensure our children are equipped to plan for and secure their own financial futures has never been more urgent.

At Junior Achievement, we are committed to preparing students from kindergarten through high school to own their economic success. We understand that preparing our youth to be financially literate is more complex than teaching them to put their pennies in a piggy bank, which is there are relevant programs crafted to meet the needs of an ever-changing environment.

For example, JA More than Money teaches students about earning, spending, sharing and saving money, as well as entrepreneurship and careers. JA Economics for Success explores personal finance and students' education and career options based on their skills, interests and values. This program, a partnership with The Allstate Foundation, has helped more than 1.2 million students set personal financial goals and make wise financial decisions.

High school students participating in JA Personal Finance recognize the fundamental elements of their personal finances: earnings, saving and investing, budgeting, credit and charitable giving.

They apply what they learn in the program to a personal financial plan that allows them to set specific goals for their lifelong financial needs and desired quality of life.

Junior Achievement works closely with educators and with the business community to deliver our programs to more than 4.2 million U.S. youth annually. Locally, we offer these programs to more than 300 schools throughout Western Pennsylvania, but there are so many more that have yet to take advantage of these services.

I urge educators to consider Mr. Boselovic's recent article and the future needs of the youth under their care. And I urge parents to call on their local school leaders to invite Junior Achievement into their schools for the lifelong benefit of their children.


Dennis Gilfoyle is president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania ( First Published May 4, 2013 12:00 AM


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