MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University Center for Financial Literacy and Education, from the John Chambers College of Business and Economics, is offering its 18th Annual Finance University during the upcoming weeks.
Finance University is a week-long seminar that brings together K-12 educators and financial literacy experts to teach them about subjects like budgeting, investing, estate planning and retirement.
The idea is that the educators take what they’ve learned back to their classrooms and then teach their students based on first-hand knowledge. Naomi Boyd, Ph.D., the Director of the Center for Financial Literacy and Education, said the longevity of the program speaks to its effectiveness and adds that their goal is simple.
Our goal is twofold — we approach it from the viewpoint of providing financial literacy resources to educators in both primary and secondary (schools) for them to integrate into their own lives. Because research has shown that it is really difficult to teach financial literacy if you don’t understand it and you don’t have a lot of personal comfort with it. We are pouring in different guest speakers and groups to talk to the teachers.Naomi Boyd, Ph.D. – Director, Center for Financial Literacy and Education
Boyd said they couple the learning with free educational resources that teachers can take back to the classroom. This year, she said, there are 42 teachers participating and seven of them are elementary school teachers, which is not typical because most years a majority of teachers are from middle and high school.
Another interesting factor this year, Boyd said, is that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Finance University to be entirely virtual. However, she said as a result they have been able to reach more teachers from all around the state who normally wouldn’t be able to attend because of time and the distance.
Boyd said they initially debated whether to even have the event this year when they realized they couldn’t do it in person. But she said she is glad they decided to move online because it is a valuable resource for West Virginia educators and students.
“I think it is a great program, from our perspective, educators are leading the charge in terms of moving — integrating that West Virginia Forward Movement,” Boyd said. “They’re the ones that are getting out in front of these kids day in and day out and providing these resources and making sure that they understand the impact of their choices from a very young age. And when we look at the sort of the economic growth and prosperity of the State of West Virginia, I think it really starts with our kids. And so that’s why we really invest so much time and effort into providing kids with opportunities to understand the choices and active financial awareness because if they can understand how to make better choices and really even knowing that college is a reality for them — it’s going to propel the state forward.”
In the time of COVID-19, Boyd said, financial literacy is more important than ever because the pandemic is putting a lot of pressure on the economy. She said from the perspective of Finance University, it couldn’t be more critical to be financially literate than right now.
“If you look at kids that are especially in high school, they may be facing in their own home lives their parents losing their jobs and just changes in socioeconomic status because of unemployment or because of changes in health,” Boyd said. “And so helping young people navigate this reality that they’re living in — and a lot of kids can’t, like my son, in particular, he wanted to go get a job this summer and I told him he couldn’t get a job. We have a lot of kids who want to work and save for school and now our options are limited.”
Finance University, according to a press release, will be held July 16 – July 17 and continued on July 20 – July 21. It is made possible by a grant from Next Gen Personal Finance.