Last week, the White House convened a Summit on Financial Capability and Empowerment to draw attention to the importance of financial education for all Americans. Maryland State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, who sits on her state’s Coalition for Financial Literacy, moderated a panel that highlighted the work of community leaders. Treasurer Kopp noted after the summit that, “schools, financial institutions and community groups all have the responsibility to improve financial literacy not only among our children but also families engaged in family budgeting, college savings and retirement. Awareness certainly is important, but so are practical ways to ensure a stable financial foundation for all American families."
Treasurer Kopp isn’t alone in this effort. Rhode Island State Treasurer Gina Raimondo recently visited North Providence High School to mark the expansion of EverFi, Rhode Island’s web-based financial literacy program. EverFi is used in 19 Rhode Island high schools and will soon spread to another 25 campuses. This program is helping people build a sound economic foundation at an early age. "Financial empowerment remains one of my top priorities and is critical to the preparedness and success of Rhode Island's high school students," Raimondo said.
Under Delaware State Treasurer Chip Flowers’ leadership, Delaware has created an Economic Index, which summarizes key state and national economic data in a clear and coherent way so that Delawareans can better understand their state’s finances. Flowers’ office also issues a monthly Prosperity Portal which provides financial education resources for everyone from young adults and families to small businesses. Attending college, caring for the elderly, getting married, and so many other key life moments can bring on great financial challenges. That’s why Flowers’ office, like so many others, provides these types of helpful resources.
These are just some examples of the efforts that are underway to help all Americans make good financial decisions. In a recent proclamation to mark National Financial Capability Month, President Obama declared, “the resilience and ingenuity of our people are driving our economic recovery, and as we lay the foundation for an America built to last, we must also promote a financial system that is fair and sound for all… we recommit to ensuring everyone has access to the information and tools that empower them to operate safely and smartly in the marketplace.”
At last week’s Summit, the Administration announced new private and public sector commitments to promote financial empowerment, as well as a new resource guide for schools, colleges and universities, employers, and communities to help leaders begin their own financial capability initiatives. Many of the Nation’s State Treasurers are leading the way through their work to educate and encourage individuals and families to make informed financial decisions.
James Schuelke is a Staff Assistant in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs