German, a student in Fort Worth, Texas, didn’t really think about saving money for the future. Then, he participated in the FutureSmart Digital course at his middle school.
"I used to spend money every chance I got,” German said, “but now I've realized that you have to earn money and save it up for things that you really want — like college and retirement.”
In Denver, Colorado, local financial advisor Rico Nelson accompanied a group of middle school students for a tour of the state capitol and visit with the deputy treasurer. At the end, Nelson, on behalf of the MassMutual Foundation, awarded a $1,000 529 College Scholarship to FutureSmart student, Daisy. She is using the money to start a college fund — a dream that seemed nearly impossible before participating in the course.
German and Daisy are just two of the two million students who will be impacted by FutureSmart Digital, the MassMutual Foundation’s financial education initiative, by 2020.
Just two years after the launch of FutureSmart Digital, the cutting-edge, online educational program has already reached more than 700,000 students across America.
Why the investment in digital financial education?
For nearly half of all Americans, the next major emergency could mean financial ruin. Research has found that 18 percent of American households spent more than their annual income in 2016.1 These realities are one of the many reasons why MassMutual committed to improving economic opportunities in the communities it serves. MassMutual believes that financial education is key and that informed citizens make smart financial decisions for their future.
The MassMutual Foundation decided to tackle the problem from the ground up by supporting smart spending and savings habits early in life. By the time students reach middle school, they have already developed the capacity to understand complex economic concepts. Yet the majority of today’s school children are not receiving the personal finance education they need to navigate the modern financial world.
“When you present the concept of money to young people, it’s no longer paper and coins,” said Dennis Duquette, president of the MassMutual Foundation. “We want to get in at the middle school level, in the years when developing good saving and spending habits help them gain financial control later in life.” Duquette noted, “FutureSmart Digital allows us to bring these concepts to life.”
The MassMutual Foundation is confident that financial education is the key to reversing some of the chilling trends in financial literacy, capacity, and wealth distribution. Its partnership with EVERFI, a cutting-edge, education-technology company, has allowed the foundation to work with school districts in every corner of America. From Boston to Phoenix, from New Haven to New Orleans, the MassMutual Foundation is proud that the FutureSmart Digital curriculum was implemented in over 4,450 schools in the 2016-17 year.
The work isn’t done. Reaching two million students across America is no small goal and the MassMutual Foundation is thrilled to be on track to meet our halfway mark of one million students reached this academic year. It won’t rest until every corner of America is FutureSmart.
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This article was originally published November 2017.