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Schwab Aims for Free Financial Education for All Schools by 2025

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What You Need to Know

  • With the Moneywise America program, the firm intends to make free financial education available to every school and community in the U.S. by 2025.
  • Financial education is unequal, and just 21 states require high school students to take a personal finance course, Schwab says.
  • Moneywise America's educational materials were developed with teens in mind, coupled with Schwab’s financial literacy and education expertise.

Charles Schwab has announced the launch of Moneywise America, which aims to help close the financial education gap by making free financial education available to every school and community in the U.S. by 2025.

The program is designed to help level the economic playing field for teenagers across the country through high-quality financial education, with a special focus on reaching young people in under-resourced schools and communities.

Moneywise America’s two core components are a standards-based financial literacy curriculum and a corps of Schwab employee volunteers trained to facilitate it.

“Our vision is to prepare every teen in America to achieve financial freedom by helping fill the financial education gap most schools struggle to address,” Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of the Charles Schwab Foundation, said in a statement. “The ability to make sound money decisions shouldn’t be considered a ‘nice to have’ or elective life-skill. Everyone needs it.” 

Closing the Gap

Schwab-Pomerantz noted that access to financial education is unequal in the U.S., and Schwab wants to make free, high-quality financial education accessible to everyone.

In a survey conducted on Schwab’s behalf last year by the Harris Poll, half of Americans said they would experience financial hardship if they had to cover an emergency expense of $1,000 or less in the next 30 days.

Two-thirds of respondents chose financial education as the most important supplementary graduation requirement to math, English and science, compared with 43% who chose health and wellness education.

Sixty-five percent believed that schools should provide financial education, while 1 in 10 thought the government or employers should do so. According to Schwab, only 21 states require high school students to take a personal finance course.

Survey respondents understood the effect of financial illiteracy on the American public. Nine in 10 agreed that lack of financial education contributes to some of the biggest social issues the country faces, including poverty, lack of job opportunities, unemployment and wealth inequality.

Rolling Out the Program

According to Schwab’s announcement, Moneywise America educational materials were developed with teens in mind, coupled with Schwab’s financial literacy and education expertise. 

To deliver those materials, or financial literacy content developed outside the firm, Schwab employee volunteers will complete an in-depth training program that equips them with knowledge to deliver financial education and empathy to relate to a teen mindset and goals.

Schwab said it aims to mobilize a quarter of its current workforce by 2025 to teach financial literacy to teens across the country. 

The first year of the program will focus on employee volunteer training and virtual volunteer opportunities; future years will incorporate in-person volunteer opportunities as schools and nonprofits resume more regular in-person programming. 

Schwab will also establish new relationships with nonprofits that will help break down barriers to financial literacy. Schools and nonprofits that do not have their own financial literacy content will have free, unlimited access to standards-based education content and trained employee volunteers who can teach it both virtually or in person.

In addition to its announcement of Moneywise America, Schwab said it is supporting Girl Scouts of the USA to help girls starting as young as kindergarten gain financial confidence and build critical money management skills as they grow.

 The new programming will be available to Girl Scout members beginning in late 2022.

“Together, Girl Scouts and Charles Schwab will offer girls across the country activities that will fuel lifelong financial acumen and prepare them to become informed fiscal stewards in their own lives,” GSUSA’s interim chief executive, Judith Batty, said in a statement. “With Schwab’s support, Girl Scouts of all backgrounds and abilities will strengthen their money management skills and enhance their financial literacy.”