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DC FINANCIAL LITERACY COUNCIL UPDATE

In late 2007, the DC Council passed, and then Mayor Adrian Fenty subsequently signed into law, the “Financial Literacy Council Establishment Act of 2008”.  The legislation’s goal was to establish an advisory council that would identify strategies to promote and enhance financial education for all residents of the District of Columbia.  Mayor Fenty subsequently appointed seven members to the DC Financial Literacy Council (FLC) in 2008, but the effort lost momentum and became dormant for several years.  Thanks to the strong advocacy of numerous financial education stakeholders including the Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition, Mayor Vincent Gray and Councilmember Yvette Alexander resolved to refocus on the strategic importance of financial literacy.

In April 2012, Mayor Vincent Gray appointed seven members to the FLC, including representatives from the DC Public Schools (DCPS), the DC Department of Insurance Securities and Banking (DISB), the DC Chief Financial Officer’s office (CFO), the DC Council and the local business community.  The group was once again tasked with the responsibility to identify strategic solutions that will promote and enhance financial literacy during this critical economic period.

Mayor Gray appointed Tamara Haye Daufour to Chair the FLC, and lead the group through this “start-up” effort.  While the members of the council possess strong enthusiasm for our common purpose, developing the organizational structure, relationships with stakeholders and policymakers, crafting a common vision and organizational mission are hurdles the FLC is working to overcome.

The FLC has resolved the following vision to guide its work:

Our vision is to be a unifying strategic advisor that promotes financial literacy and education in the District of Columbia through organizational collaboration, communication and dissemination of information to residents, policy makers, education and financial services providers and other stakeholders.

The FLC’s mission is to:

1. Empower residents to achieve short & long term financial goals;

2. Assist and advice the Mayor & the Council in promoting financial literacy in the District of Columbia; and

3. Facilitate the coordination of public & private financial literacy and education services.

As you can imagine an overarching question for the body is how best to achieve this mission?  Aided by the counsel of financial education stakeholders during our monthly public meetings, the council resolved to create three subcommittees tasked with very specific objectives designed to achieve the overarching mission.

  1. Student Affairs Committee - Chaired by Brian Pick (DCPS) - The committee’s responsibility is to examine the critical needs of the District’s student population.  That examination will consider existing financial literacy programs, opportunities to expand the strategic partnerships with DCPS, the adoption of financial educational standards and the general needs of students.
  1. Resident Affairs Committee – Chaired by Clarice Wood (CFO) –The committee’s responsibility is to examine the critical needs of the District’s adult population. That examination will consider the economic needs of  DC’s residents including issues impacting seniors, fully leveraging the earned income tax credit, enhanced communication tools, educational tools and consumer protections.  The committee will focus on opportunities to create greater linkage between the educational efforts of third-party organizations and the District’s agencies as well.
  1. Advisory Committee – Chaired by Joseph Vaughan (ANC-4C) – The participation and counsel of external stakeholders are critical to the success of the FLC.  The advisory committee is responsible for critically important communication and engagement with all stakeholders in the FLC’s mission.

The authorizing legislation mandates a finite reporting structure for the council, and the FLC is working in an expedited fashion to meet that mandate.  Our goal is provide a preliminary report to the Gray administration and the DC Council.  Although it is critical to provide substantive recommendations in a timely manner, those recommendations must be informed by quantitative and qualitative analysis of the needs of DC’s residents.  To that end, the Student and Resident Affairs Committees are conducting research surveys and we welcome the participation of GWJ$ and its partners in that regard. 

Communication is essential to the success of this effort and we are hopeful the FLC’s website will be online in the early fourth quarter of 2012.  The website will serve as a forum to share information with and gather information from residents, stakeholders, financial education providers and policymakers in the District.  The council looks forward to sharing our minutes, meeting schedules, by-laws, reports and other timely updates via the site.

In closing, the FLC is an ambitious start-up organization with terrific enthusiasm.  We want to share this process with all concerned and hope you will consider the council and its partners a resource.  We appreciate your consideration and welcome the opportunity to help further your organizational goals by meeting the important financial literacy goals and needs of residents of the District of Columbia

 

Formal Written Testimony

from

Greater Washington Jump$tart

for

DC Council Hearing on Financial Literacy

January 23, 2008

 

Today, America’s youth face an increasingly sophisticated and complex financial marketplace, with increased pressure from all sides to “buy” more and to use consumer credit to finance day-to-day expenditures. These forces promote a sense of financial insecurity and reinforce negative behaviors. Many young people have out-of-control spending problems and credit troubles even before graduating from college. They face financial pressures living on their own and uncertainty preparing for retirement that their parents didn’t face as they were starting out. Now more than ever, young people need management to help them build a secure financial future.

There must be a sense of urgency to establish financial literacy programs integrated in the curriculum of all schools to effectively build awareness and skills, and influence positive consumer behavior that is so needed today. Children, as young as elementary and middle school age, witness economic hardships in their own families because adults in their lives face mounting debts, foreclosures, and bankruptcies. Young people need financial knowledge, tools, and hands-on, practical experience in wise money management to help them build a secure finance future.

Statistics and the media speak to the financial crises that exist among American adults: The Federal Reserve Board stated that consumer debt has exceeded $2.4 trillion as of May 2007. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, personal savings for Americans in May 2007 was negative $139.8 billion, a figure $18 billion larger than the previous month. The Retirement Confidence Survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute showed that fewer than 50% of our nation’s workers have retirement savings and investments over $25,000. With companies shifting the responsibility of investing for retirement to the employees, it is critical that our youth will have the ability to make informed investment decisions along with starting a job or career.

The most practical solution for encouraging and equipping youth of the District of Columbia to make sound money management choices is through an established financial education program in the District’s schools. Although many non-profit providers and other partners in the financial industry offer financial education or resources, our nation’s schools are ultimately the best providers of financial literacy programs. The effect of financial education in the District’s schools will be empowering our youth and improving our nation’s economy.

Councilmember Mary Cheh’s “The Financial Literacy Council Etablishment Act of 2007” is a good first step toward providing the District’s youth with the tools to understand and manage their financial resources wisely. We commend Councilmember Cheh for spearheading these efforts, with the recognition that the District’s Public School system faces many challenges in providing a financial educational curriculum.

I. The Need for Financial Education

Recently, many challenges facing the District of Columbia Public School system has been noted. We are aware of the work that needs to be done, and we encourage you to ensure that financial education is a crucial component of the improvement efforts that will be formulated in the coming months. Financial education needs to be considered of high importance to a well-rounded educational curriculum, with an emphasis on teaching students about savings, managing expenses, using credit responsibly, buying a home, and investing for their future.

The state of financial literacy among our youth nationally speaks directly to the need for financial education here in the District. The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy’s 2006 survey shows that of the approximately 5,700 high school seniors tested nationwide, the participants scored slightly above 52% on a test of very basic financial literacy skills. Results from this survey also indicate that some populations are falling even further behind. The survey revealed at least a 10 percent gap in knowledge between white students (average score of 55 percent), African American students (average score of 44.7 percent) and Hispanic students (averagescore of 46.8 percent).

Compounding these problems, many states are not living up to what is needed in the realm of financial education. In 2007, the National Council on Economic Education released a survey of the states on Economic, Personal Finance and Entrepreneurship Education that points to the need for better progress, given the commitments made by the states to offer or require personal finance and economic education in our nation’s schools. Personal Finance is now included, to at least some extent, in the educational standards of 40 states; 28 states require these standards to be implemented. Only seven (7) states require students to take a personal finance course as a high school graduation requirement and only nine (9) states require the testing of student knowledge

in personal finance.

II. The Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy

The Greater Washington Jump$tart (Jumpstart) Coalition is an inclusive, non-profit organization with over fifty individuals and organizations representing business, not-forprofit, government and education. We have joined forces to form a local coalition in an effort to coordinate and streamline the process of improving the personal financial literacy of schoolchildren and young adults in the Greater Washington, D.C. region, particularly in the District. GWJ$ seeks to encourage public awareness, enhance professional development, facilitate partnerships (business, government, schools, nonprofits), and promote the resources and activities of member organizations.

Jump$tart believes that personal finance needs to be part of every student's education in Kindergarten through college. We believe standards-based classroom education is important. Jump$tart currently maintains the National Standards in K-12 Personal Finance Education and believes it's important to have benchmarks wherewith to track the progress that is made. There is already a plethora of personal finance curriculum that already exists; therefore, we encourage efforts that concentrate on implementation and distribution, rather than the creation of new materials. Jump$start operates an online clearinghouse to help parents and educators find these existingresources.

III. Members of the Commission

We highly recommend that the Advisory Council be inclusive of individuals with a background in financial education and practical experience teaching and delivering financial topics to both students & adults. To best serve the diverse needs of the District’s population, ideally Advisory Council members should be drawn from the many sectors engaged in financial education delivery and dissemination, including non-profits (NGOs), corporations, associations, and government entities. This diversity of opinions will strengthen and enhance the individual(s) charged with advising and implementing financial education for the District of Columbia.

IV. Coordination & Communication

As the commission is formed and begins, it is imperative that there is coordination and communication with all of the various groups, entities, DCPS, the DC Council and all others that are involved. We would encourage the Council to appoint a coordinator within the DC government to serve as point person for all of the District’s financial education communication and coordination. It is probably most reasonable to assign a current employee who already has a passion for financial literacy, and therefore, this person would also have the most interest and ability in coordinating and communicating the information between all of the involved parties.

Best practices can be taken from states that have begun the process of integrating financial education. For example, Pennsylvania has an office of financial education housed in the state government under the direction of the governor. There is one person charged with the task of providing, implementing, and monitoring the progress of financial education within the state. Another example, Virginia, is working to include financial education as a standard of learning so that teachers have the opportunity and incentive to teach this vital information in the classroom. By discovering and sharing best practices from other states that are already working on increasing financial literacy, the District will be able to piece together a program that will be unique for the District of Columbia, but that builds on the successes, failures, and lessons learned through other financial education efforts. For more information on best practices, go to www.gwjumpstart.org.

 V. Plans with Benchmarks & Actions

While attention is now being paid to the lack of financial proficiency among today’s young people, the problem will not resolve itself. In order to determine and implement practical solutions that will teach and help prepare D.C.’s youngest citizens for financial success in life, we must determine where our students fall in the continuum of knowledge related to personal finance skills. What better way than taking advantage of an unbiased, proven method of measurement that would cost little to no real money for the District’s public schools or the D.C. government?

The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy’s 2008 survey is available for all school districts across the United States to test their students’ financial literacy aptitude. We encourage and would support the District in the testing of students’ for this vital information. The test is free of charge and is offered once every two years. This testing sets an important foundation and benchmark as the commission embarks on its financial literacy campaign. We have provided copies of the Jump$tart Coalition®. Standards for Personal Finance and will be pleased to provide and support the commission with any further information that is needed.

We, as the collective body of Greater Washington Jump$tart, applaud the DC Council for taking the first steps toward increasing financial literacy in the Washington, DC area. We encourage the Council to designate a point person within the D.C. government who will spearhead these important financial education initiatives and ensure communication and cooperation among DCPS, the public, and supporting organizations. Given finite District resources, it makes sense to focus financial education in the high schools. These young people will benefit most immediately. As soon as possible, we believe the initiative must expand into all grades, Kindergarten through 12th grade. It is vitally important that Washington, D.C. schools begin teaching students about finances and help prepare them for their future. Thank you for addressing this important concern. I would be happy to answer any questions.

 

Addendum

 

I. Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition Spokespersons

 

- Mary Bell, Board Member (Financial Planning Association)

- Susie Irvine, Board Member (American Financial Services Association)

- Sharon Jones, Board Member (Citibank, N.A.)

- Peter Thomson, Board Chair (Citi Smith Barney)

 

Website: http://www.gwjumpstart.org/

 

Peter L. Thomson

Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition

1747 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20006

202.778.4786

202.778.1270

 

Email: Turn on JavaScript!

 Attachments:

1. National Jump$tart Letter to US Financial Literacy & Education Commission (FLEC)

2. Standards by National Jump$tart for Financial Education

3. Calendar by National Jump$tart for 2008 Survey of Financial Literacy

 

theforum

 

GWJ$ Financial Literacy Leadership Event

 MAY 3, 2010

To kick off Financial Literacy Month in DC, the Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition hosted a breakfast event for 250 attendees representing over 100 organizations on April 8th. The event,Investing in our Future: Financial Education and Washington brought together national and local leaders of the business, nonprofit, government, and education communities to frame the issue of financial literacy and highlight initiatives underway in region and throughout the country to improve the financial literacy in America. Speakers included Michelle Greene, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Education in the U.S. Treasury Department; Elizabeth Duke, Governor of the Federal Reserve Board; Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of the Washington, DC public schools; Gail Laster, Deputy Chief Counsel for the House Financial Services Committee; and Dan Iannicola, President and CEO of the Financial Literacy Group.

Speakers emphasized that financial literacy education is quickly becoming a national priority, and partnerships and collaboration will be a key to success of the national strategy. Fed Governor Betsy Duke mentioned the Fed’s partnerships with organizations like Jump$tart, Gail Laster discussed the work underway between Congress and the Financial Services industry, and Treasury’s Michelle Greene discussed how partnerships are the driving force behind the Financial Literacy Education Commission (FLEC) and the President’s Advisory Council for Financial Capability. Greene also announced the redevelopment and launch of FLEC’s website, www.mymoney.gov that went live at the end of April. At mymoney.gov, consumers of all ages can access unbiased, trusted information about money and personal finance.

Another major theme at the event is the call for innovation in the field. With the advent of new technologies and ways to communicate, organizations must consider creative solutions to reach students, teachers, parents, employees, etc. By leveraging existing internet-based applications and resources, organizations can able reach broader populations, track results and reach audiences in an interactive, yet accessible way.

Finally, DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee left audiences in awe as she discussed the challenges facing DCPS as she seeks to enact reform within the school system. She noted that when she stepped in as chancellor in 2007, the D.C. public school system spent more money per child than any other urban jurisdiction in the country but maintained the lowest-performing academic programs. Today, there are signs of change, and Rhee is doing her best to “lead from the front.” She also discussed DCPS’s work with the Capital Gains Program that provides financial incentives for positive academic and behavioral performance for middle schools students in DCPS. Overall, the feedback from the event has been very positive! GWJ$ thanks all of those individuals and organizations who helped make the event a success!

A special thanks goes out to our event sponsors: Citi, Investment Company Institute Education Foundation, Bank of America, BB&T, Purple Strategies, AALU, E*TRADE, American Express, and the National Banker Association Foundation.

 

PHOTOS:

Pictures from Greater Washington Jump$tart Inagural Finanical Literacy Month Breakfast HERE

 

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke

Welcoming remarks

At the Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition financial education event, Washington, D.C.

April 25, 2007

Good morning. I am pleased to be able to be here today, at the Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition's inaugural event, to celebrate Financial Literacy Month 2007 and to say a few words about the importance of financial education. I join other Jump$tart partners as well as professionals from the fields of banking, finance, government, and law who will be speaking to nearly 2,000 public high school students about financial literacy.

It is a special privilege to be with the students here today, the juniors and seniors of Washington's own Woodrow Wilson High School. You are ambassadors of your school and indeed of Washington, our nation's capital. I know that this is a school committed to academic excellence. As you think about the time, not so far away now, when you will leave Wilson High, I hope that you will resolve to keep, throughout your life, the habits of learning and of thinking for yourself that you have gained in your years here.

As you think about your future, don't forget the importance of financial literacy. Although financial matters are probably not at the front of your minds today, the day will come when you will be responsible for managing your own or your family's budget or when you will find that you need to save to get the things you want--a college education, a new car, or even your own home. To achieve these personal goals and to build financial security, you will need to understand the fundamentals of budgeting, banking, saving, and investment. It is also essential that you know how to use--properly and responsibly--the many types of credit that will be at your disposal, such as credit cards. Later this morning, my colleagues from the Federal Reserve will be talking with you about how to manage your credit. Because credit has become such an integral part of our economy, and because there are so many sources and forms of credit available, much more financial sophistication is required today than when I attended high school. As a parent of two young adults myself, I believe that helping young people become financially literate is critical for their future economic well-being and should be a high priority for educators.

In addition to celebrating Financial Literacy Month 2007, we are here today to celebrate the inaugural event of the Greater Washington, D.C., chapter of the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Finance. The Coalition is a national leader among organizations that work to improve the personal financial literacy of students from kindergarten to the university level. In particular, through its biennial survey of high school seniors, Jump$tart has brought increased attention to the issue of financial literacy among youth in the United States. The results of the surveys, which have shown that students' financial knowledge is often much less extensive than we would like, remind us of the need for continued efforts to help all students--as well as adults--obtain the skills they need to navigate today's increasingly complex financial markets. This new chapter of Jump$tart has joined forces with over fifty individuals, businesses, and not-for-profit, educational, and government organizations, including the Federal Reserve Board, to increase knowledge about personal finance among schoolchildren and young adults in the Greater Washington, D.C., region. The Federal Reserve is strongly committed to Jump$tart's mission and to working closely with the local Washington, D.C., chapter--as it does with the other Jump$tart chapters around the country through its Reserve Banks and Branches--to help achieve this mission.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation of the teachers and staff of Wilson Senior High and the administrators of the Washington, D.C., public school district here today. It is your hard work and dedication to these students that will help guide them toward successful futures. There is no higher nor more worthy objective than preparing our young people for fulfilling and productive lives. To the students of Wilson Senior High, I wish you the best of luck in the future, and I especially want to congratulate the seniors who will be graduating at the end of this term. Lastly, a special thanks to the Greater Washington, D.C., chapter of the Jump$tart Coalition and their partners for their continued support and commitment to furthering the financial education of our youth. Thank you.

 

SEC, Jump$tart Coalition Spread Financial Literacy to Local Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2007-74

Washington, D.C., April 25, 2007 - SEC Commissioner Paul S. Atkins today led a financial literacy presentation to students at Luke C. Moore Academy Senior High School as part of a collaborative effort by the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies to teach financial basics in D.C. Public Schools during Financial Literacy Month.

Atkins was joined by other government, banking, finance, and legal professionals involved with the Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition. The presentation was geared toward teaching personal finance concepts to high school juniors and seniors, and included specific guidance and instruction about budgeting, credit, and identity theft. The Coalition hosted simultaneous financial literacy events at 17 D.C. Public Schools today, reaching more than 2,000 students.

"Teaching the fundamental building blocks of savings and investment will serve these young people well in the future," said Commissioner Atkins. Programs like Jump$tart, Atkins told the students, will "help ensure that as you grow up, graduate, and get a job, you will be able to make good personal savings, budgeting, and investment choices."

Today marked the coalition's inaugural event, with its primary goal to provide all high school juniors and seniors with a financial education course before leaving school.

The Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition is comprised of more than 50 individuals and organizations representing business, non-profit, education, and government entities. Its mission is to coordinate and streamline the process of improving the personal financial literacy of schoolchildren and young adults in the Greater Washington region. Formed last year, the Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition (www.gwjumpstart.org) is an affiliate of the national Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy (www.jumpstart.org).

 

http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2007/2007-74.htm