Senator Anthony Petruccelli has been tapped by Treasurer Steve Grossman to help enhance financial literacy in the state.
Last week Grossman kicked off the first meeting of the Financial Literacy Trust Fund, an independent body that will develop a state-wide strategic policy for enhancing financial literacy and raise funds to implement it’s goal of educating historically underserved populations on smart saving and budgeting practices.
“It is our goal, through this piece of legislation, to work with Treasurer Grossman’s office to increase the financial literacy of our Commonwealth’s residents,” said Petruccelli. “We intend to advertise the laudable goals of the trust fund in order raise the capital needed to promote a better educated public, with regard to all finance-related matters.”
Grossman worked with the Legislature and Governor Deval Patrick to advance a bill that created the Financial Literacy Trust Fund. The Trust Fund’s twenty-member Board is chaired by Grossman, and last week’s meeting marked the first time the group convened. The Board will meet on a regular basis and have ongoing communication as it looks to develop strategies and raise funds to enhance financial education.
“A little education can go a long way toward ensuring sustainable fiscal stability,” said Grossman. “The Financial Literacy Trust Fund will provide critical training on topics such as saving, consumer protection measures, and the power of compound interest in long-term financial planning.”
Grossman has made financial literacy a priority in his administration, noting that “kids need it, veterans need it, senior citizens need it, and single moms need it.” He has attended and promoted a series of associated seminars through his Office of Financial Education, including a day-long fiscal “Reality Fair” in Boston this fall, where over 100 high school students participated in a series of simulated exercises and scenarios surrounding budgeting and saving.
The idea of having wider access to financial literacy for students in inner city schools has people like Pj Schott, who ran East Boston High School’s stock market game last year, very excited.
“These are exciting times,” said Schott. “Finally all the dots are connecting between the educational resources, the educators, and the kids who need financial literacy the most. By sharing our resources we started a pilot project at East Boston High School to show this subject can be taught with no budget. Next semester Eastie High will offer Financial Literacy as an elective.”
Schott added that hopefully the legislation that is now in the Massachusetts Senate Ways & Means Committee – Senate Bill S1994 – will pass soon and mandate all Massachusetts schools offer financial literacy education.
“Yes, it is an unfunded mandate but we have already shown we don’t need money, just a little bit of time,” said Schott. “Our statewide corps of volunteers has formed a coalition with the New England Regional Director for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Foundation, the Massachusetts Council for Economic Education, the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the Private Industry Council, and several local corporations to provide resources and train the teachers – free of charge – while giving them an opportunity to earn credits in Professional Development.”
Schott said the energy around this project is truly inspiring.
“Soon we will be able to give all our kids a shot at the financially secure futures they all so richly deserve,” said Schott.
Studies have shown that students in more affluent neighborhoods or schools are better prepared for the financial responsibilities of adulthood when it comes to money management and investing.
Many of these schools, when compared with their inner-city counterparts, offer more comprehensive finance courses. That coupled with the fact many of these students have parents that invest in the stock market, hold 401Ks and pass valuable money management traits down to their children many suburban high schoolers are well on their way to financial success.