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Treasury Notes

 Empowering Youth, Meeting the Challenge

By: Linda Yaron

As an English teacher in an inner-city Los Angeles community for seven years, I have seen the importance of empowering young people with the skills they need to build a foundation for long-term financial security.  

Knowledge is power.  And in the case of the National Financial Capability Challenge, knowledge about money is a powerful tool to help equip students to take control of their financial futures.

The Challenge, which is administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Department of Education, includes a voluntary online exam with awards for top-scoring students. It is designed to help teach young Americans to make smart decisions about earning, spending, saving, borrowing, and other critical financial skills. To help prepare students for this exam, teachers will have access to a new “educator toolkit” – released today and available here – that includes a wealth of powerful lesson plans.

These lesson plans will help students build a variety of financial skills, such as:

  • Identifying positive and negative spending behaviors
  • Developing a personal budget, including a savings plan and a spending log
  • Opening, monitoring and balancing checking and savings accounts
  • Identifying the costs and benefits of purchasing insurance and investing in higher education
  • Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of using credit
  • Identifying the impact of interest rates and fees on the price of a credit card purchase
  • Identifying methods to minimize the risk of identity theft

Teachers can select lessons from a menu of options and adapt them to fit the unique needs and learning styles of their students, such as adding culturally relevant connections to lessons and creating class projects. Additionally, for the first time, this year’s toolkit will include interactive online lessons and Spanish-language materials.

Last year, more than 76,000 students participated in the National Financial Capability Challenge. And, hopefully, even more will take part this year. Teachers can go to and join the Challenge this spring to help empower their students through financial awareness and education.

Linda Yaron is Teacher Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education

Posted in:  Financial Education and Financial Access
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