Nearly a third of high school seniors use credit cards and even more have ATM cards. But many don’t know the basics of budgeting, saving and planning for their financial future. As a result, many young Americans are entering adulthood without basic financial education — and with debt.
Teens believe that as adults they will earn an average salary of $145,000. In reality adults with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $54,756 in 2011.
The solution to this disparity, teaching! You have something young people don’t have — experience and perspective — so you can help give a child or teen a financial literacy education. Junior Achievement offers an easy step-by-step financial literacy program that you can share with children in their schools.
The time commitment for this project varies, depending on your schedule, from a single school day to a weekly one-hour visit for five to 10 weeks.
In a recent Junior Achievement study, 83% of teens said the best time to learn money management is in grades K-12.
WHAT TO DO
STEP 1: CONTACT JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT
Tell JA you’d like to volunteer for one of their programs at a local school. You don’t need a financial background or special degree. JA makes it easy by helping you find a school and providing the curriculum and training! Contact JA at www.ja.org.
STEP 2: PICK A PROGRAM
Decide which program you feel most comfortable teaching. Junior Achievement has numerous programs targeted to a variety of age groups. Find out more about them here:
STEP 3: RECRUIT FRIENDS
While you can teach your financial literacy class on your own, you might want one or two people to help, depending on the material and your comfort level. Start with friends and neighbors, and share your enthusiasm for helping America’s youth learn essential money management skills!
You might be able to use more volunteers as well — for example, to present to other grades in the school — so keep a list of interested people. You can teach a class on your own or partner with a friend to lead a financial literacy class.
STEP 4: GET YOUR TRAINING
Junior Achievement’s training sessions last one to two hours and make it EASY for you! They provide step-by-step instructions and materials for teaching the financial literacy programs. Sign up to volunteer with JA at https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-usa/volunteer-now.
After your training session, make sure you review the materials thoroughly so you are ready to present to a classroom full of inquiring minds. For more on what to expect in the classroom, watch Junior Achievement’s Volunteer Orientation video online at https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-usa/training-videos.
Get all the answers to your questions on the JA program from your Junior Achievement trainer.
STEP 5: TIME TO TEACH!
Just be yourself! Students are excited to have a new face in the classroom and will be eager to hear what you have to say. It’s natural to be a little nervous, so don’t let that bother you. For tips on how to present yourself on Day 1 and how to follow up after your session, see “Tips for Volunteers Teaching a Class on Financial Literacy,” below.
STEP 6: HELP A CHILD OR TEEN YOU KNOW
If Junior Achievement is not available in your community, or if you want to do more, you can use JA and AARP materials to help a child in your family or a neighbor’s child. Personal finances can be a difficult and uncomfortable subject to discuss, so try to focus on your own positive experience. The tools Junior Achievement provides are designed to help you start the “money talk” with children you know. JA has specific information on talking to children and teens about money. See below for some helpful links.
STEP 7: INSPIRE OTHERS ON CREATETHEGOOD.ORG!
KEEP UP THE GOOD!
Visit www.CreateTheGood.org for a range of opportunities to use your life experience, skills and passions to benefit your community.
Helpful links relating to teaching financial literacy to youths:
Volunteering with Junior Achievement – https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-usa/volunteers
Take charge of your money – www.aarp.org/money
See the benefits of saving – www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/spending_less_calculator/
Young Americans Center for Financial Education – https://yacenter.org/
National Endowment for Financial Education – www.nefe.org
JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy (maintains a comprehensive clearinghouse of curriculum materials at its website) – www.jumpstartcoalition.org
NCMSC Support Center (has been going into schools and teaching financial literacy to youth of all ages) – www.ncmsc.org
TIPS FOR TEACHING A CLASS
Tips for Volunteers Teaching a Class on Financial Literacy
YOUR FIRST DAY:
- Arrive early to ensure time to check in at the school, find the classroom, set up materials and get comfortable.
- Welcome the children to the session and publicly thank the teacher for allowing you to be a part of their school day with this valuable session on financial literacy.
- Start off with enthusiasm and a smile!
- Always remember that you have something valuable to offer, both the expertise from your Junior Achievement training and lessons as well as the experience from your life. Some kids may be disinterested or disruptive, but that’s normal in almost any classroom. Most students want to learn, and you can have a great influence on their financial futures!
- Leave plenty of time for questions from the students.
AFTER THE LAST SESSION
- Thank the teacher and the administrative staff for their support.
- Ask if the school can provide feedback from both the students and the teacher on the program.
- While the program is still fresh in your mind, note any things you would have done differently and/or any feedback you can provide to JA.
- Sincerely thank any people who volunteered with you; encourage them to do it again.
If interested, arrange to do the program for another class, another grade or another school.