Jan 27, 2020

Mission 2030 Guest Post: Lana Main Believes Every Student Needs Personal Finance In High School

Blog post written by NGPF Fellow, Lana Main of West Central High School in Hartford, South Dakota. Her school will be receiving a $10,000 Gold Standard Challenge Grant from NGPF. 


“I wish I’d had this class when I was in high school!” 

How many times have you heard this from a parent at conferences or elsewhere? One of my favorite parts of parent-teacher conferences has always been having the opportunity to share with parents what their child is learning about in my Personal Finance class. I’m often pleasantly surprised to learn that they’re aware of what we are studying because their child has been coming home and asking them lots of questions!

I‘ve been teaching Personal Finance in South Dakota for 13 years. Around the time I first introduced this course at my school, the state implemented new graduation requirements that required students to take Personal Finance, Economics, or AP Economics in order to graduate. This fall, in an effort to ensure that all students at my school have the opportunity to develop their financial capability, I made the decision to advocate for a change in our graduation requirements. This is something I had always wanted to do and NGPF provided me with the resources to finally pursue this change. Last summer I was selected as an NGPF Fellow and had the opportunity to travel to Palo Alto, CA where along with a cohort of other passionate educators, I furthered my content and pedagogical knowledge. This, along with the NGPF Gold Standard Challenge grant opportunity, provided me with the incentive I needed in order to advocate for this change. 

The process of changing the graduation requirements initially seemed overwhelming. I started by explaining my goal to the principal, superintendent, and the economics teacher at my school. Thankfully they all gave me their blessing to write the grant and pursue the change in graduation requirements at our school, West Central High School. 

During the process of pursuing this change, I presented twice to the school board. Last November I shared with them my plan to write the grant and pursue the change in graduation requirements. In December, after I received notification of preliminary Gold Standard Grant approval, I spoke again at the meeting where the school board was scheduled to vote on the new graduation requirements. I used the great resources on NGPF’s Advocacy page to prepare for my presentation. These resources were extremely helpful to me as I worked to convince the stakeholders in my school that this change was necessary because the statistics were included in the pre-created slide deck and all I had to do was add in my own impact stories from students who had taken the course and agreed that it should be required for all their peers. 

The Gold Standard Challenge was my first experience writing a grant proposal. I devoted quite a bit of time and effort into the process and am so excited that my efforts paid off. The $10,000 grant that my school received will go a long way in helping me continue to make my class Personal Finance class the best it can be.  

The best advice I could offer to other educators who are looking to make Personal Finance a requirement at their school is to utilize the resources provided on the NGPF Advocacy page and confidently present your case to the important stakeholders within your district. The data provided on this page makes a convincing case that’s really hard to argue against. Our students’ financial futures depend on our efforts, so no matter how daunting it may seem, you simply cannot stop trying! 

Best of luck! 

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