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Los Angeles Unified to Provide Financial Literacy Instruction for All High School Students and their Families

 

Los Angeles Unified officials announced plans today to provide high school seniors and families greater access to financial literacy education. 

Details of the plans were unveiled at a press conference in West Los Angeles on the campus of University High School Charter.

With commitments of one million dollars from City National Bank and up to one million from the California Council on Economic Education (CCEE), Los Angeles Unified aims to promote financial health in the Los Angeles Unified community.

City National Bank will provide a digital interactive curriculum that high school seniors can use to learn personal finance in the classroom. Initially offered in 75 high schools, the program will be expanded throughout Los Angeles Unified over a three-year period. Teachers will receive training on this important work.

Additionally, CCEE will provide complimentary financial literacy workshops for students and their families over the next several years. Lessons for both programs include how to apply for financial aid, establish credit, invest wisely and more.

“We want to equip our students with practical knowledge so they are prepared to navigate life challenges,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “We also recognize that this important work requires engaging our families so they can be part of these conversations. We are grateful to CCEE and City National Bank for their support of this effort.”

In the classroom, students may take six to eight hours of interactive, online modules and receive credit in economics, business or other relevant subject areas. Progress and performance will be assessed by measurement tools supplied to educators. And City National Bank, in partnership with EverFi Inc., will provide students who successfully complete the course with a “Certification in Financial Literacy.”

“Providing critical financial literacy tools to high school students and their families is one of the most important ways we can help make our communities stronger,” City National Bank Chairman Russell Goldsmith said. “Giving them this knowledge is crucial if they are going to make the sound financial decisions needed to achieve their career and college aspirations.”

To engage families who may not have access to the digital tools, CCEE’s Family Financial Literacy Events will consist of three-hour interactive workshops to engage students and their families in structured dialogue on the same topics students are learning in the classroom.

“For the last 60 years, CCEE has been deeply committed to bringing economic and financial education to California’s K-12 students,” CCEE Board Chair Asha B. Joshi said. “Thanks to a generous gift from CCEE Board Member John Nickoll and the Nickoll Family Foundation, we are able to allocate up to one million dollars over the next several years toward this initiative.”

“I am very dedicated to helping the Los Angeles educational system and strongly believe in the importance of economic and financial literacy as a foundation for individual and community prosperity,” Nickoll said. “I am pleased to make a contribution toward that goal.”

Research shows that students who receive ten hours of financial literacy instruction have better FICO scores and fewer delinquencies than their peers who have not received such instruction.

University High senior Belen Ferra had the opportunity to learn about this earlier this year while taking a class from graphic arts teacher Christopher Becerra.

"It was really helpful to have the chance to learn some important skills at my own pace while also having a teacher there to guide me in case I had questions,” Belen said. “What really stayed with me was the concept of saving. As teenagers, we tend to want to spend all our money right away, but now I am thinking about things more long term and being conscious of where my money goes."

“Many students aren’t as knowledgeable about finance as they think,” Becerra said. “The learning really helps them by making the concepts relevant to their daily lives. I’ve already seen students making progress in learning how to set up bank accounts, apply for loans and navigate the frequently daunting world of financial aid for college. The curriculum is easy to use and is very helpful.”

Hamilton High School, also in West Los Angeles, has already offered family workshops similar to those planned for the coming years. Hamilton parent Sonia Ochoa, mother of a junior at the school, was able to participate.

"Learning about finances alongside my son made such a difference in being able to discuss those topics with him and the rest of our family,” she said. “I was so grateful to get that support from his school. It makes me very happy to know that more families will be able to benefit from this program."

Board Vice President Nick Melvoin, whose board district includes University High, thanked the partners for making the program possible.

“Thinking about things like paying a mortgage or deciding whether to buy or lease a car are examples of ways students can be better prepared for the years ahead,” he said. “That’s why we are so grateful for this partnership, as it helps ensure our students are graduating – not just having mastered skills in algebra and calculus, which are of course important – but also with the financial literacy they need to plan their futures and to help their families.”

Also present for the announcement was Cheryl Hildreth, Superintendent of Local District West, which includes University High.

“This partnership is a great opportunity for us,” she said. “We work hard to prepare our students for the real world, and we all know as adults that understanding how finance works is essential to having a successful life and successful career.”

Los Angeles Unified will be one of the few districts in the state of California to implement financial literacy education for students and families in all of its high schools.