Mission 2030 Guest Post: Hilary Donahue Guarantees Students are Independent and Successful Citizens
The following post is one in a series of inspiring stories from NGPF's Gold Standard Challenge Grant Program which incentivizes high schools and districts to commit to ALL students taking personal finance courses before graduation. Learn more, and apply for your $2,500 to $30,000 Gold Standard Challenge Grant before the August 31, 2022 deadline here.
About Today's Guest Author
Hilary Donahue is an educator at Student Learning Charter School at Pennsbury in Levittown, Pennsylvania. Their school is the 142nd recipient of the Gold Standard Challenge grant for requiring all students to take Personal Finance as a graduation requirement. Here is CSL’s path to the Gold Standard in Hilary’s own words.
Describe a rough timeline for how you and/or your colleagues were able to advocate for personal finance to become a graduation requirement in your school/district. How long did it take? What were the major progress milestones?
When I started at CSL in 2013, our administration, who were also new that year asked me to create a half-year Financial Literacy course. The next year we expanded it to a full-year class. Most of the students have taken the class in the years since 2013, however, the class was not mandatory. At the end of the previous school year and at the beginning of this school year, we had serious discussions about what our students most need in order to be independent and successful as citizens in our democracy.
What challenges did you encounter in your efforts to make personal finance a graduation requirement, and what solutions did you find for these challenges?
My administration has always been very supportive of the Financial Literacy class. For example, when we do our career unit, our CEO and our Dean interview me and are interviewed by the students to help them gain real career experience! The challenge was to ensure that there is room in the curriculum to include the existing requirements and add a new one. Since students often join our school after they have spent time in other schools and being a small school, we have challenges in this area. Our administration had to make the commitment to work with each student to ensure that all of our goals were met.
What/who were the "catalysts for change" that allowed your efforts to be successful?
I must give a shout-out to all the students at CSL who are the reason that I was successful in my efforts. If they had not shown every day for the past 8 years that my Financial Literacy course made a difference, I would not have been successful. My administration and our Board are very aware of the challenges and accomplishments of our students on a daily basis.