News Releases

June 03, 2010

State Treasurer Announces New Financial Literacy Program for Vermont Elementary Schools

MONTPELIER, Vt (June 3, 2010) — A new statewide program designed to highlight the importance of reading and teaching young children basic personal financial concepts was announced today by the State Treasurer’s Office. “Reading is an Investment” aims to increase school book collections in personal finance, give teachers and librarians related curricular resources, and encourage students to read books that teach money concepts. It will debut this fall in schools across the state.

“We need to talk to our children from a young age about foundational money management concepts,” said State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding. “The goal of Reading is an Investment is to promote the teaching of personal finance by providing elementary schools with quality children’s books that explore financial subjects, and give tools to teachers and librarians that they can use to help kids make the connection between these stories and their individual lives.”

The Reading is an Investment program will take a two-prong approach to promoting financial literacy — class or library instruction and personal reading. Each fall, participating elementary schools will receive two or three new hardback books. Lesson plans and activities will be included with the books to teach money concepts. As applicable, these resource materials will be tied to State Standards for math, language arts and social studies.

At the same time, students will be encouraged to participate in a personal financial literacy reading program. School librarians will receive a recommended reading list for the year of titles that focus on basic financial concepts. Students who read at least three books from the list and complete personal reading requirements can send a completed reading log to the Treasurer’s Office for entry in a statewide drawing for one of ten $250 accounts in the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan — Vermont’s official 529 college savings plan.

“We’re thrilled that the concept of literacy is expanding to media literacy, information literacy, and financial literacy,” said Shannon Walters, library media specialist at C.P. Smith Elementary School. “We try to make the most effective use of the tools we have in hand. We want to help the kids to make the best choices, so talking about personal finances is a great fit.”

A group of librarians from the Vermont School Library Association and the Vermont Department of Libraries Children’s Services provided input on the program and assisted in selecting books for distribution this fall. Three books are planned for distribution this year. The titles and authors are: “Follow the Money!,” by Loreen Leedy; “Money Madness,” by David Adler; and “One Hen,” by Katie Milway. The Oregon State Treasurer’s Office also shared its experience in founding the first Reading is an Investment program.

The Vermont program is underwritten by contributions to the Financial Literacy Trust Fund. The fund was created by the State Legislature in 2008 and authorizes the State Treasurer to receive money from a variety of sources to fund financial literacy programs. Major sponsors of the program are the Windham Foundation and the TD Bank Charitable Foundation.

“Financial literacy is more important today than ever as shown by recent events,” said President and CEO of the Windham Foundation John Bramley. “Unfortunately, most children reach adulthood ill-equipped for the financial decisions that will face them. The Reading is an Investment program seeks to address that and the Windham Foundation is pleased to help support it.”

“At TD Bank, we believe the opportunity to enrich our communities is both a privilege and a responsibility. TD Bank and the TD Charitable Foundation are committed to giving children and teens the tools they need to make smart financial decisions,” said TD Bank Market President Phil Daniels. “That’s why we are pleased to support the Reading is an Investment program with the Vermont State Treasurer’s Office.”

Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan prizes are provided by the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. The program also received a mini-grant from the Vermont Humanities Council.

“VSAC encourages families to save for college early and often as a way to avoid incurring excessive education loan debt down the road,” said Vermont Student Assistance Corporation President Don Vickers. “We are pleased to be able to offer an incentive for families to participate in the Reading is an Investment program, because kids and parents need this type of financial literacy advice in order to make wise financial decisions.”

The need for continued emphasis on youth financial literacy is evident in two recent surveys. A 2009 survey of Vermont teen girls and money by the Girls Scouts of the Green and White Mountains and the Vermont Commission on Women showed a lack of knowledge of basic financial tools. For example, 33 percent of the girls ages 13-18 reported having a checking account, but only 22 percent knew how to balance their checkbook and only 18 percent knew how to use their bank statement. A 2008 survey of Vermont high school senior by the national Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Finance showed teens scoring only 50.3 percent on a financial knowledge test.

In order to participate in the program, elementary schools must elect to participate. Through an online survey sent to member librarians of the Vermont School Library Association, 46 schools elected to take part in the program this fall. The Treasurer’s Office plans a mailing this month to all of Vermont’s 159 elementary schools to invite further participation. Schools interested in signing up for Reading is an Investment may contact the Treasurer’s Office by calling 1-800-642-3191.

Source: State Treasurer's Office
Last Updated at: June 03, 2010 16:30:55