Brokerage Adds Financial Literacy to the Three R’s

Charles Schwab targets teens with financial education for schools, nonprofits

Girl learning about finance in elementary school
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Jonathan Kirn

Citing an education gap in financial literacy among teenagers across the country, brokerage firm Charles Schwab introduced a financial education program Tuesday with a special focus on youth in underserved schools and communities. The firm also said it’s partnering with Girl Scouts of the USA to teach girls in kindergarten through grade 12 about money management.

Schwab’s new program for teens, called MoneyWise America, includes a standards-based financial literacy curriculum aimed at 13- to 18-year-olds, adding to the traditional three R's taught in schools: reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic. The program will be offered at schools and nonprofits by about 8,100 trained employee volunteers—or a quarter of Schwab's workforce—by 2025. 

The brokerage aims to make financial education free to each community and school in the U.S. by then, with a goal of preparing “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 release.

Financial literacy is loosely defined as knowing how to manage and budget money effectively over a lifetime. But unless such skills are taught early, young adults can easily fall into “debt traps,” with negative credit behaviors including higher borrowing rates, mortgage delinquency, and home foreclosure, according to a 2018 report by the Brookings Institution.

In addition to the new MoneyWise program, Schwab said it’s teaming up with the Girl Scouts organization to include new digital tools and more financial concepts in the group’s financial education program, beginning late next year. 

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