What is Project Finance?
From retirement savings to credit scores to even relationship outcomes, financial literacy education has a wide range of ramifications in people’s lives. Currently, Montgomery County is letting down its constituents by not only offering personal finance classes at less than 20% of all high schools, but by also not making financial literacy a graduation requirement. For these reasons, InnovateX has started Project Finance; an initiative dedicated to pushing the Board of Education to follow other Maryland counties and states across the country in requiring students to take a one semester financial literacy class.
One in three high school graduates and will be fully reliant on financial literacy education received in high school (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Over 40% of Americans have said that they do not have any retirement savings
16% of all American consumers who have a credit score between 300 to 549 suffer from worse housing, career, relationship, and communication outcomes
5.2% reported they had been turned down from a job due to a lack of financial knowledge (National Financial Educators Council)
In order to meet state standards, Montgomery County incorporates its personal finance lessons into its government courses. To supplement teachers' lessons, the county includes an Everfi Curriculum for teachers to utilize. However, there is no accountability or enforcement of this teaching so our survey results reveal that most students end up never learning personal finance throughout high school.
Additionally, only 5 out of 25 MCPS high schools even offer a 1 semester personal finance course.
why Financial Literacy Matters
"Financial education is the best mechanism for increasing financial literacy for everyone; especially those who aren’t being taught financial skills at home."
"Providing financial education in schools is the most effective way to achieve widespread financial literacy."
"Financial literacy rates directly affect the financial health of individuals, families, communities, and the country, giving us all a stake in the level of education being taught to our children."
Implement a standardized one semester personal finance graduation requirement and make course available in all 25 MCPS high schools
Distribute an annual anonymous student survey published to all MCPS schools and staff to provide accountability and feedback on the personal finance unit after NSL
Actively promote and encourage students to enroll in the course and update course bulletins to include this course
Create a MCPS Financial Literacy Coordinator position responsible for spearheading personal finance expansion and accountability
Project Finance Timeline
InnovateX Personal Finance Town Hall co-hosted by Katie Yuan, Lauren Perl, and Angelina Xu featuring SMOBS Nick Asante and Hana O'Looney
1st Survey: Over 290 students
Meetings with Board of Education members Patricia O'Neill and Shebra Evans
First meeting with MCPS social studies supervisor Maria Tarasuk to discuss the formation of a MCPS Personal Finance Work Group
Officially formed a MCPS Personal Finance Work Group of students, teachers, non profits, and other key stakeholders
Met with local personal finance nonprofits including CashMD, Montgomery County Council of Economic Education, the Federal Credit Union, MCCPTA and more
Met with and received support from Montgomery County Council VP Gabe Albornoz
Hosted the InnovateX Personal Finance Town Hall featuring current and elect Student Member of the Boards to educate the public about personal finance issues in Montgomery County.
June – July 2021
Received over 1230 Personal Finance Student Survey responses from students across almost all MCPS high schools
Met with Student Member of the Board Hana O'Looney to discuss the proposal of a 0.5 credit 1 semester personal finance graduation requirement resolution on our behalf
Board of Education Testimony By Katie Yuan
Sent 457 letters from students across MCPS to the Board of Education requesting for personal finance reform
Hosted teacher and student interviews across the county
Recruited InnovateX Project Finance Ambassadors from across 16 MCPS high schools
Letter Writing Event at Richard Montgomery HS
Hosted first MCPS Work Group Meeting with representatives from students, teachers, nonprofits, and former Student Member of the Board Nick Asante
Officially released MCPS Work Group Personal Finance Student Survey to students through social studies department heads to evaluate the existing state of personal finance within MCPS
MCPS Personal Finance Work Group Kick Off Meeting
August – September 2021
Drafted and finalized MCPS Personal Finance Work Group Proposal based on feedback and survey data collected from teachers, students, nonprofits, and other key stakeholders
Meeting with Hana O'Looney (Student Member of the Board)
October 5th 2021
The resolution for a 0.5 credit 1 semester personal finance graduation requirement in MCPS is officially introduced by Hana O'Looney at the October 5th Board of Education Meeting
Snapshot of What students think
December 2020 Initial Student Survey Form: over 290 responses
MCPS Work Group Personal Finance Student Survey Form: over1230 responses
How can I help?
If you take a financial literacy course or know teachers that do, ask your teachers to fill out this form:
Are you a teacher that believes in the importance of financial literacy? Please help support our cause "Project Finance" to push the Montgomery County Board of Education to require students to take a one semester financial literacy class!
Get involved by filling out our quick teacher survey
Encourage your students to fill out our student survey
"As a first generation American, the lack of financial literacy has had a large impact on my family and my parents. My dad moved to the United States after finishing college back in Thailand, our home country. As an immigrant in the US, he did not know where to start. All he had was a few dollars in his back pocket. He struggled to earn any money, and it was difficult for him to build a stable foundation. Without the proper financial knowledge, he was unable to quickly find a home and start a modern life. Even after starting a new family, we all did not live in the greatest condition. Slowly, without much financial literacy, our family grew and developed to eventually become financially stable. To avoid this struggle, the implementation of a personal finance high school graduation requirement will help future generations build a strong foundation. They will learn how to manage income and maximize profits, which will help them sustain themselves in college and in their future careers."
What teachers think
Teacher interviews were conducted with numerous MCPS high school teachers who decided to remain anonymous. A few concerns were raised:
“Current county financial literacy standard is embedded into the social studies curriculum, meaning that students are ‘exposed’ to financial literacy through one unit. However, there is no requirement of demonstrated knowledge.”
“Currently the county expects that students will eventually learn financial literacy in college so it isn’t taught in high school, but oftentimes college students do not learn it, despite their increased independence. This leaves too much work for the individual to do themselves and a lack of necessary support for them.”