Teachers from around the state participated last week in West Virginia University’s Finance U program to bring financial literacy skills back to their students. Though it originally began in the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office, WVU has operated Finance U for the past five years as part of its business school’s Center for Financial Literacy and Education.
Finance U involves helping young people across the state become more financially literate by introducing financial concepts in the classroom. Students learn about budgeting, investments, home mortgages, insurance, and even newer forms of financial technology like cryptocurrency.
Amy Pridemore, the director of the program, says everything relates to how money is used in everyday life. “Money is involved in everything that we do,” Pridemore said. “Whether it’s buying a home, or buying a car, or taking out student loans, there are so many different areas that are touched on in our adult lives that we are not taught in school.”
This year, Finance U is putting more emphasis on innovation. The teachers involved will learn more about financial technology, alternative investments, and entrepreneurship. Pridemore calls it a ‘train the trainer experience,’ where the teachers will not only learn financial literacy techniques they can take back to the classroom, but will be able to earn a financial planning certificate and three hours of graduate school credit from WVU.
Naomi Boyd, WVU’s associate dean for innovation, outreach, and engagement at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics, says this focus on financial innovation is because of an increased interest in investing.
“There are young people out there who are participating in capital markets, who are trading stocks and bonds, and digital currencies like Bitcoin, that don’t have the knowledge and the baseline understanding of what they’re even trading,” Boyd said.
She wants students to really understand how things are valued. The financial habits people make in their youth will continue into college and adulthood, making it important for a financial curriculum to be taught in schools in the future.
“The decisions that these young people are making when they are in high school are going to transcend into decision making that they are going to engage with in college,” said Boyd. “If we can set these individuals up for success going into college or going into their careers, this is going to have lifelong impact.”