THE BLOG
08/13/2012 07:17 pm ET | Updated Oct 13, 2012

Financial Experts Jump Into Education Doing What They Do Best

By: Robyn Gee

PwC, a professional services company that specializes in audit and assurance, tax and advisory services, launched a program called Earn Your Future, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility commitment. As part of the program, PwC designed learning modules around financial education that are available for free online. They have created 18 modules so far, that provide appropriate financial lessons for a specific age group.

The program was presented at the Clinton Global Initiative America 2012, and pledges $160 million towards creating financial literacy modules for grades 3-12, in addition to $100 million worth of time from its employees to work on this project.

According to Shannon Schuyler, PwC’s Director of Corporate Responsibility, the company’s biggest gift to the community is their expertise in finance. “If we want to be part of the solution versus just being at the end figuring out the problem, we need to get into the schools and start young in educating leaders about what it looks like to be a responsible leader when you’re dealing with finances,” she said. "At the core of it, it’s about being responsible, and dignity, and realizing ramifications."

According to the Charles Schwab Teens & Money Survey, 35 percent of teenagers do not know how to write a check and only 13 states require students to take a finance class before graduating from high school. But even in states that require this course, there is no standard curriculum, according to Schuyler. 

She broke down what some of the PwC lessons look like for different age groups:

- A module for young students might talk about financial decision making, and prioritizing needs over wants. “It’s important with younger children to talk with them about the dollars that they see, and patterns they see in their friends and families. They can’t actually talk in terms of getting an income,” she said.

- A middle-grade module might deal with credit cards and debt. “Most people in junior high or high school do begin to get credit cards. And so there’s a lesson specific to what does that mean? ... What happens if you fill out the information? What does that mean if you get a credit card and you decide to use or [not] use it? What does that mean [in terms of] the ramifications for your credit score in the future and how can that impact the next phase of your life?” said Schuyler.

- A module for older students might focus on identity theft since young people aren’t always aware of the consequences of giving out their information online. “We know that a significant portion of the population right now... have had their identities stolen. A lot of times this is from easy issues like having young folks fill out credit cards or getting on different websites, and not having an appreciation for why not to share some of their personal information, like bank accounts and social security numbers,” said Schuyler.

According to Schuyler, there is a mindset shift that needs to happen with children who might see their parents or others around them buy new television sets every couple years, buy new phones when they get released, or get their nails done every week. “Part of it is breaking the habit. When you really bag things up and say which are things you need, and which are things you want instead... Young children can’t do that. Is rent more important? Or is savings more important? Or is a new phone more important? They’re not always able to put those things into needs and wants,” she said. 

Check out a Youth Radio commentary about financial education by Christian Hernandez.

Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

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