Payday Practice – Financial Literacy Initiative
Dr. Virgil Gulker, Hope College
In the fall of 2010, Community Action House (CAH), a non-profit organization in Holland, MI, approached ASI Consulting with a radical vision to put itself out of business by equipping children and families with the tools for financial freedom. This sentiment is reflected in their mission statement, “to break the cycle of poverty by empowering families and individuals to achieve self‐sufficiency.” ASI accepted this challenge and partnered with CAH on this project.
After extensive research of existing national standards for financial literacy, ASI set forth to create a survey to assess the personal finance education currently offered in Holland Public Schools. ASI then compared the results to existing financial literacy programs and the best practice standards for personal education materials distributed by state and national educational institutions.
The third through fifth grade students of Holland Jefferson Elementary were administered a fifty-four question survey in May of 2011. The survey data revealed two main conclusions: (1) Students have a strong ability to recall and communicate financial information and concepts, and (2) There is no statistically significant difference between the responses given by students of differing socio-economic backgrounds.
Though most students and adults of all income levels have a basic understanding of financial concepts, these teachings too rarely influence one’s spending and saving behavior outside the classroom. Working with a team of mentors and advisers, ASI chose to focus on teaching the “Concept, Integration, and Application” of all financial matters.
Currently, ASI is working with Holland Jefferson’s fourth grade to integrate personal finance teachings into the state curriculum standards and Market Day program. ASI’s newly developed activity, named “Payday Practice,” allows students to intentionally prepare for their first paycheck – what they will save, what their expenses may be, how to develop a budget given income scarcity, and more.
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