Teaching Economics as Life Skills

Many studies have shown that financial illiteracy is one of the key contributors to the overwhelming debt and poverty plaguing many American families.

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According to Michael Bohinc, 43 percent of American families spend more than they make, contributing to the nation’s $915 billion in credit card debt. This financial irresponsibility filters down from parent to child. 

Economic Literacy for Kids

Sallie Mae reports that the average undergraduate carries $3,173 in credit card debt. And most schools aren’t doing much to combat the problem either, with only 13 states mandating students to take a personal finance course as a graduation requirement. And in a recent Jump$tart Coalition survey, high school seniors answered only 48.3 percent of financial literacy questions correctly.

Still, there is hope out of this financial crisis, and it is being discovered in schools across the country. 

Originally developed as a joint project between the StreetSchool Network™ and the Powell Center for Economic LiteracyInfusionomics is the final product of efforts that began as Ele:Vate (Economic Literacy Education: Vital Assets for Transformation and Empowerment). To datemore than 35 schools and more than 3,500 students nationwide have been impacted by the program. Students have successfully opened and run their own businesses, first graders have published their own economic advice books, and students have raised money for people dealing with natural disasters.

“We’re not just educating kids in reading, writing, and arithmetic,” said Heidi Cate of the residential Lighthouse Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, “but trying to help them understand everything that it takes to maintain their own lives—from laundry to balancing a checkbook to renting an apartment.”

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