Mission 2030 Guest Post: Renee Nelson Breaks the Cycle of Poverty Through Personal Finance Education
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
Renee Nelson is a teacher at KIPP NYC College Prep High School in Bronx, New York. Their school is the 91st recipient of the Gold Standard Challenge grant. Here is KIPP's path to the Gold Standard in Renee'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?
With the vast amount of students requesting that the personal finance course would be helpful to their future, there was an issue of how it would fit into a students' schedule. In 2017, enrollment for the course reached an all-time high. In 2018, students were able to earn college credit for taking the personal finance course and outreach to reach all students through workshops increased across grade levels. 10th graders were now starting to have money conversations and asking grade questions. In 2019, staff and families of students were attending financial literacy workshops. 2020, students' schedule logistic barriers created a silver lining to have all students required to take a semester of financial education to Seniors. Beyond, create a plan for students to be exposed to financial education earlier in their high school education. Advocate for more employee financial wellness, and join forces with families to break the cycle of poverty through financial awareness and education.
What challenges did you encounter in your efforts to make personal finance a graduation requirement, and what solutions did you find for these challenges?
The challenges are that there are so many requirements our students already have to graduate and to add more would seem overwhelming. It was also difficult to find the space in students' schedules to make it a requirement. The solutions that were found and agreed upon gradually saw the momentum of requests increase over the years, and started to embed the curriculum in other courses. Because students had so many unanswered questions, having a semester dedicated to financial literacy became an obvious next step.
What/who were the "catalysts for change" that allowed your efforts to be successful?
The change came about when there were so many issues on social justice across the globe in education. Financial literacy is social justice. This will give our students a way to empower themselves to have intelligent conversations about their money and how they can keep more of it in their pocket.
Which stakeholders (students, parents, admin, business leaders, school board, etc) were helpful partners in your quest to make the graduation requirement happen?
Students and staff were very helpful in making the idea come to life. Teachers were letting time in their courses be dedicated to financial education, and students kept requesting it in meetings with leadership at our school.