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Alameda 4-H improves the financial literacy of 4th and 5th-grade students

The Issue

People develop financial attitudes and behaviors at an early age and today’s youth have significant spending power $211 billion a year in the US (http://www.statisticbrain.com/teenage-consumer-spending-statistics/). While youth are good at spending, various surveys on the financial literacy of teens, consistently report a grade of F or less than 69 percent. This issue is especially salient for limited-income youth and their families. From Tom Torlakson (California State Superintendent) to the US Mint, policy- makers, and organizations have been drawing attention to the need to equip young people to be the competent financial consumers and managers of tomorrow. Multiple groups have recently developed curriculums and programs to meet this need. However, many programs are not research-based, so it is unclear if they lead to financial literacy.

What Has ANR Done?

With the goal of increasing middle school youth financial literacy, UC Cooperative Extension Alameda 4-H, in collaboration with the East Bay Asian Local Development Center (EBALDC), developed, implemented, and evaluated a financial literacy curriculum called Money Savvy Youth (MSY). MSY is a 5-week in-school program delivered by program staff. We reached out to schools in limited- income areas of Oakland, CA. Twenty-five teachers from 11 schools participated. With their help, MSY was taught to 403 diverse youth (African-American = 31%, Hispanic = 29%) over a year. To measure program impacts, we adapted a post-test survey from the Council for Economic Education’s Financial Fitness for Life curriculum and gathered pre, post, and follow-up surveys from the youth.

The Payoff

4th and 5th Graders increased their financial literacy and learned the value of saving money

We found that a 5-week financial literacy course, MSY, can increase 4th and 5th-grade youth financial literacy. Students gained a better understanding of topics like banking, saving, and making decisions about needs vs. wants, etc. Comparing the pre and post test scores, 4th and 5th graders who took part in the program scored five times higher than youth who did not. Finally, we now have a research-based program that EBALDC will continue to use to reach limited-income youth.

Clientele Testimonial

Feedback from program participants:
"Now I know how to use money and where it comes from, so now I'll think twice before I spend."

"The program helped me to save money. Before, I spent money for all my wants, but now, I use money for my needs and save money much better."

"It made me save more money, and I saved $100!"

"It changed me because I would [have] spent money on a video game, but now I will save it for college."


Supporting Unit: Alameda County

Contra Costa County also
Charles Go, 4-H Youth Development Advisor, 510-963-0659.