Elementary schools in Nebraska will be able to access a free, online financial literacy program for children in fourth and fifth grades this fall, thanks to a new program announced today by Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg.
The new program, Vault – Understanding Money, is an interactive course designed to introduce financial literacy skills early in a child’s cognitive development. It was developed by EverFi, Inc., a Washington, D.C., technology company that also developed the Treasurer’s online financial literacy program for high school students called Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars.
“Our successful venture into high school education has led me to seek out a similar program for middle and elementary school students,” Treasurer Stenberg said.
“I believe that to develop lifelong financial well-being, we must start early in a child’s life. Teaching the principles of wise spending, saving and investing at a young age prepares children to learn more as they reach high school. It also provides a firm foundation for later, deeper exploration of financial subjects and leads to responsible decision making as our young people embark on their first jobs, plan for college, and prepare for careers, leading to lifelong financial well-being.”
Vault will be available to the first 200 schools that sign up, Stenberg said. Home school families also are encouraged to sign up. The program is being offered at no charge to schools or students through the sponsorship of the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST), Nebraska’s state-sponsored 529 college savings program. Treasurer Stenberg is Trustee of NEST. The agreement with EverFi runs for three years.
“It is my hope that in addition to improving the financial literacy of Nebraska youth, this program will help make parents more aware of the opportunity to save for college for their children through our state-sponsored, tax-advantaged 529 college savings program,” Stenberg said.
Vault features six learning groups that focus on skill building and decision making, from learning how to control spending to seeking advice about money from trusted adults. The program takes a total of two and one-half hours to complete and is designed to be broken into short blocks of time. Topics include responsible money choices, income and careers, planning and money management, credit and borrowing, insurance and safety, savings and investing. Each learning group contains assessments that measure student knowledge gains throughout the program.
Both the Vault curriculum and the high school curriculum in Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars align with state and national school standards.
“After three years, we have developed a strong working relationship with EverFi and are confident about the content and quality of EverFi programs. Likewise, some of our projects in connection with this relationship have been highlighted by EverFi as among its most successful efforts,” Treasurer Stenberg said.
A total of 102 Nebraska high schools are using the Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars program in the 2015-16 school year, reaching almost 6,000 students.
“Nebraska high school students enrolled in NEST Scholars in the 2014-15 school year made substantial gains in their overall financial knowledge, recording an impressive average knowledge gain of 61 percent, based on pre- and post-testing,” Stenberg said. Statistics are not yet available for the current school year.
“The gains students made last year are both impressive and meaningful. They are especially rewarding for those of us committed to helping students master the basic financial information needed for their future personal, professional, and family lives,” Stenberg said. “Not only do NEST Financial Scholars know more, but they are also are more confident and better prepared to make the financial decisions they will face as they move through their teen years and into young adulthood.”
Stenberg said, “The need for financial literacy education in schools is great. EverFi recently reported that support for teaching financial education in schools is almost universal among parents at 95 percent.”
To learn more and how to sign up for Vault, schools are encouraged to contact Jessica Feimer, EverFi school manager for Nebraska, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-651-7171. Teachers can start using the Vault program next school year after a 20-minute informational session. More information also is available at treasurer.nebraska.gov/financial-literacy/.