Financial Literacy for Everyone
Follow Us
For Editors

Run Nathaniel Sillins's weekly Practical Money Matters in your online or print publication. Subscribe today

For a photo or bio of Nathaniel Sillin, see our press kit.

For Broadcasters

Learn how you can play our weekly Practical Money Matters on your station. Learn more

Play NFL

Challenge yourself with Financial Football
Play our fun video game to test your knowledge about money.
Play now

PMM articles

Practical Money Matters
Disputing a credit card charge? Graduating? Leasing a car? Learn important tips from our weekly article series.
Read now

social media

Connect with us!
For daily money tips, quips and pics, follow us on social media.
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

High-schoolers take the financial capability 'challenge'

By Jason Alderman

In a major crisis, our first impulse is to address people's immediate needs. With the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, that meant providing food and shelter to the victims. In the case of the recent economic recession, the government stepped in by extending unemployment insurance, providing COBRA subsidies and promoting mortgage refinancing guidelines, among many other programs.

Once the dust settles on pressing concerns, a more long-range approach kicks in – we step back and ask questions like, "How did we arrive at this state?" and "How can we all keep from making the same mistakes again?"

Part of the solution is to strengthen our financial education programs so that today's children and teenagers are better equipped to manage their own finances and avoid the mistakes of their parents. Many studies have shown that young adults display much lower financial literacy than older generations.

Neal Wolin, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, notes, "The government is moving forward with financial reform and strong protection for consumers, but we must also do a better job of making sure our high school students graduate with a better understanding of basic economics, basic finance and the benefits and risks associated with debt."

In that spirit, the Departments of Treasury and Education jointly launched the National Financial Capability Challenge, a nationwide award program aimed at increasing the financial knowledge and capability of high school-aged students. The Challenge inspires students to take control of their financial future by learning more about personal finances and challenges teachers and schools to incorporate important financial information into their curricula.

Across the country, thousands of teachers, schools, home-school parents, youth group leaders and others were recruited to enroll and prepare their students for the program. Educators were provided with a free educational toolkit to supplement other materials they may already use.

The Challenge, which wraps up in April, culminates in a voluntary, 30-minute online exam. The top two scorers at each school, as well as all students who score in the top 20 percent, will receive personalized award certificates. Educators from schools and states with the highest participation rates also will be recognized. "We're very pleased by the favorable response we've received, and eagerly await the final exam results," says Wolin.

Numerous other government- and private sector-sponsored financial literacy initiatives are also underway. For example, on April 19 the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Visa Inc. are co-hosting the fourth annual Financial Literacy and Education Summit whose theme is "Advancing Financial Stability and Responsibility."

The program features leading financial literacy experts who will address key issues in the fields of education and personal finance, such as how we can improve our collective economic health and how to bolster our shared commitment to global financial education. Among the many experts speaking at the Summit will be Wolin's Treasury colleague Michelle Greene, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Education and Financial Access. To register to watch the free live Summit broadcast and stay informed about event details, visit

Take advantage of the wealth of financial education tools available so you – and your kids – can better weather the next financial storm.

This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how tax laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.

<< Back to Practical Money Matters

Email to a friend

Your Name:
Your Email:
Recipient's Email:
Enter code:

The information that you provide through this e-mail feature will not be stored by Visa for any other purposes. Please refer to Visa's privacy policy for details.