Amarillo 4th Graders Learn the Value of Savings

Working for a Better Texas

By Lauren Stebbins

Financial education has the potential to put students on the right path to building the skills that are so important for building financial security.   Smarter Texans Save, a new initiative which launched in January coordinated by OpportunityTexas in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Financial SecurityTexas Council on Economic Education and CFED, with support from the U.S. Department of Treasury, will give elementary school students in the Amarillo Independent School District a unique opportunity to participate in important research that could break new ground in financial capability for other Texas school districts and schools across the nation.

Smarter Texans Save is designed to pilot Texas’ new requirements for personal financial literacy instruction in K-8 math classes.  The initiative will also examine the effects of financial education coupled with an in-school banking program on student learning, financial attitudes and behaviors. Through Smarter Texans Save, all Amarillo ISD 4th grade students will receive financial education, with the goal of helping students develop important financial skills, including saving money and spending wisely. The research component of Smarter Texans Save is particularly innovative as virtually no rigorous research exists on the effects of financial education coupled with hands-on banking application. The results of this program may inspire more schools across the nation to explore similar strategies for helping their students gain personal financial skills and build savings at an early age.

During the Spring 2013 semester, students will receive six financial literacy lessons tied to the Texas K-8 financial literacy curriculum standards that will go into effect statewide in the 2014-15 academic year. Happy State Bank is also implementing its in-school banking program in roughly half of Amarillo ISD’s 36 elementary schools, doubling Happy State Bank’s current in-school banking program, Kids’ Bank, in the Panhandle. Half of the students in these schools will randomly be offered a $25 seed deposit to encourage them to open an account and test the effects of the seed deposit on student enrollment in the account.

Smarter Texans Save received media coverage from major Amarillo news outlets including a story in the Amarillo Globe-News and a story on KAMR Channel 4. Also, you can check out a photo album of the press conference here.

For more information about Smarter Texans Save, check out the official press release, visit http://smartertexanssave.wordpress.com/ or contact Laura Rosen, OpportunityTexas Coordinator at rosen@cppp.org.

(This piece was originally posted on Opportunity Digest, Opportunity Texas’ blog, on Feb. 6, 2013).

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