Teaching Financial Literacy to Teens




Money Skills for TeensLast month, I had the opportunity to visit Junior Achievement’s Finance Park in Glendale to witness first-hand their efforts to inspire and prepare youth to succeed through innovative financial literacy programs.  JA Finance Parkallows 7th to 12th grade students to see, touch, and live the experience of personal finance in a real-life setting of stores, shops, and financial institutions, by basically becoming “an adult for the day.”

These efforts are much in need! Based on an international financial literacy assessment issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, American teenagers struggle to demonstrate competitive financial knowledge on the world stage. Among 18 participating countries and economies in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the United States ranks between 8th and 12th place in 15-year-olds’ aptitude in planning and managing finances.

Coming once again this July, a number of UCLA Extension’s youngest students will participate in our Money Skills for Teens course, a 2-week, daytime workshop offered on the beautiful UCLA campus. Taught by UCLA Extension’s long-time instructor Steven Gail, the class is designed to specifically help teens develop strong money management skills. Combining Mr. Gail’s contagious enthusiasm for financial literacy along with online tools and resources, students learned key personal finance concepts including how to identify and prioritize money management goals, an investment primer, and a full overview for understanding credit, including college loans.

Moving forward, we plan to continue our efforts in this area by having UCLA Extension instructors and students volunteer at JA Finance Park™ and also expanding the Money Skills for Teens course to a much wider audience in the LA community. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in participating in this important mission.

Rich Burnes

Program Director, UCLA Extension
Financial Management Programs

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