OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) is pleased to be one of the many partners celebrating April 2019 as Financial Capability Month in our state. Understanding the importance of financial education, Washington Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed April as Financial Capability Month.
This month presents opportunities for partners like DFI, the Treasurer’s Office, Jump$tart Washington Coalition and the Financial Education Public-Private Partnership (FEPPP) to highlight and support the work being done to increase and improve financial education in our state - and assist the many educators and organizations currently providing financial education to Washington residents.
“Helping Washington residents improve their financial skills and capabilities is part of DFI’s core mission,” DFI Director Charlie Clark said. “When more residents understand how to make sound financial decisions and avoid financial fraud, it greatly increases individual well-being as well as the prosperity of our state as a whole.”
Washington State Treasurer Duane Davidson agrees.
“Our state thrives when our communities and citizens thrive,” Treasurer Davidson said. “Financial success begins with knowledge and continual learning of financial education topics. As we make learning a priority, we can ensure that our citizens are empowered to grow and our communities are given the chance for greater success.”
With organizations regularly assessing our nation's financial literacy, results continue to illustrate the need for personal finance education – in school and at home.
According to the 2018 Survey of the States by the Council for Economic Education (https://www.councilforeconed.org/policy-and-advocacy/survey-of-the-states-2/) only 1/3 of the states in our country require students to take a personal finance class prior to graduation – and only seven require classroom testing related to personal finance.
The 2017 Financial Literacy Survey conducted by Harris Poll for BECU and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (https://www.nfcc.org/data/) showed only 42% of adults had and stuck to a budget, and 2 in 5 carried credit card debt from month to month.
Though Washington State recently adopted K-12 financial education standards, this lifelong learning topic is not yet a statewide requirement. Many teachers do, however, provide financial education in their classrooms, and FEPPP is training more teachers ever year how to integrate financial education into their existing coursework.
“Personal finance, and other financial literacy skills, are key to the successful futures for kids and families,” FEPPP Chair Representative Monica Stonier (D-49th) said. “Financial Capability Month is a great opportunity to find resources, and to have financial education conversations.”
Representatives from local community groups, financial institutions, not-for-profit organizations, businesses, schools, libraries, government agencies and media outlets will conduct classes, seminars and other activities to educate consumers about money management and generating awareness of financial education available on a wide range of topics.
“The coalition partners at Jump$tart Washington recognize that we can’t get it all done alone, but we can get a lot done together,” Jump$tart Washington President Karl Kaluza noted. “We bring together a coalition of dedicated educators and professionals from a cross-section of nonprofit, business, government, community-based organizations. It’s our diversity of interests and values focused on financial education that allows us to best serve the financial literacy needs of students in our state.”
Kicking off Financial Capability month, teachers and community leaders began signing up to participate in the Jump$tart Washington Coalition’s Reading Days as part of Money Smart Week, a national campaign focused on increasing awareness of the importance of financial education. Reading Days brings community leaders into elementary schools to read “Prices! Prices! Prices! Why They Go Up and Down” by David A. Adler and talk about the importance of making wise money decisions. Several community leaders have committed to reading this year, including:
- Washington State Treasurer Duane Davidson at Griffin Elementary
- FEPPP Chief Administrative Officer Tracy Godat at LP Brown Elementary
- DFI Director of Credit Unions Amy Hunter at Evergreen Christian Elementary
- Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler at West Hills Elementary
- Ellensburg Mayor Bruce Tabb at Lincoln Elementary
- Island County Treasurer Wanda Grone at South Whidbey Elementary
- Othello Mayor Shawn Logan at Scootney Springs Elementary
- Sedro-Woolley Council Member Karl de Jong at Mary Purcell Elementary
- U.S. Bankruptcy Judge (Retired) Karen Overstreet at Leschi Elementary
In addition to providing information online and free workshops in communities throughout Washington, DFI continues to seek additional collaborative partnerships to foster further implementation of financial education for all residents at every stage of life — from pre-K to assisted living.
DFI’s Financial Education Clearinghouse www.dfi.wa.gov/financial-education provides access to resources - from budgeting and saving, credit and debt, to health care and mortgages, and has a special section on avoiding scams – into a single site.
For more information about DFI outreach, workshops, partners, programs and information, visit www.dfi.wa.gov/financial-education/ and follow us on Twitter @DFIConsumers and @FinEd4All, our financial education blog www.finlit.blogspot.com and Facebook www.facebook.com/wadfi.