Discover Financial Services has awarded us (Reading Community Schools) a $60,000 grant to cover the cost of implementing a financial education course specifically for special education and special needs children into our curriculum. The grant is part of Discover’s Pathway to Financial Success program, a five-year, $10 million investment to bring financial education curriculum into public high schools across the country.
Receiving the Discover Financial Services Pathway to Financial Success Grant is a tremendous opportunity for Reading Community Schools to add to our financial literacy program. We already have such a strong curriculum and this will enable us to expand this successful program for special education children.
Comprehensive financial literacy coursework for special education/special needs children for a semester long class does not exist. Since being awarded the Discover Grant, I have begun working closely with national experts to pull together the course-writing team. Doug Young with the Council for Economic Education, a partner in the project, connected me to Michael Roush, the National Program Director for the National Disability Institute. Laura Levine, the Executive Director of Jump$tart, has also been helpful in the process. Chris Shannon, who has written coursework for NEFE and VISA, will be involved in writing the coursework. I have also allocated funds to purchase a full computer lab.
Our collective goal is to write standards and course lessons that will be incorporated in special education classrooms across the country. The generosity of Discover will impact Reading kids, and kids throughout the nation. We are honored to be the first educators to tackle this special project.
My district made the commitment three years ago to mandate a stand-alone course in Personal Finance to graduate, and began to offer a unit of Personal Finance in the middle school. In addition, personal finance and economic strands are being taught in our elementary buildings coupled with experiential elementary programs such as UC's Economic Center STEP program and the Stock Market Game. What was missing was a robust and inclusive financial literacy course specifically designed for special education and special needs children.
Statistics show that a majority of Americans lack the knowledge to make good financial decisions. Eight-four percent of high school students say they need more education on financial management topics, and the Department of the Treasury reported that graduates of high schools in which personal financial education is offered achieve higher savings rates and net worth than those graduating in states where financial education is not mandated.