If you’re like most adults your introduction to handling finances was trial and error. And despite the fact that our kids are already consumers by the time they hit their teens, very few of them have a basic understanding of how finances work.
A new program is looking to change that. Citadel and Citadel Securities, in collaboration with EVERFI, have created MarketWorks, a free digital course offered to high school students across the country that tackles personal finance, investing and more.
As we live through a pandemic, getting a handle on money at a young age is more important than ever. So far, more than 13,000 students have completed the MarketWorks program since it launched in 2018. The company is hoping to expand its reach to students all across the country so future generations can make informed decisions when it comes to money.
The best part is that because the program is fun and interactive, teens will actually want to do it!
“Through an engaging, interactive learning experience, students blend economic concepts with investing topics to learn how the government, corporations and individuals come together to participate in the financial marketplace,” says MarketWorks.
“Modules are focused on financial markets and exchanges, the global economy, company financing from startup to IPO and fundamentals of investing. The course concludes with an interactive investment portfolio simulation.”
Inspiring Teens To Be Money Smart
If it sounds like your high schooler might graduate the program knowing more than you do about finances, educator Jane Viau says that’s often the case! Viau teaches math at Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem and has been using the MarketWorks investing program with her high school juniors and seniors. She is passionate about financial literacy for young people.
“What I like about the program is that it introduces the concepts and vocabulary in an accessible way,” she says. “It’s a very interactive format. Not everyone wants to become a doctor or an engineer, but everybody wants to know how to manage their money.”
Viau says she lobbied to be able to teach a class on personal finances and that student testimonials helped convince the school to allow her to do it.
“The most valuable part is that the kids go home and teach the parents,” she says of students who complete the course. “It goes beyond my classroom. They don’t go home and talk about physics. But they do talk about opening an IRA.”
Viau says signs of success were when a sophomore went home and asked her parents to open a 529 plan for college, or when another student convinced his brother to sign up for his company’s 401K plan. “That to me is so cool,” she says.
Because there are so many taboos when it comes to talking about money, Viau says students often start her class with misconceptions.
“The community I teach in – they don’t trust the bank. I work hard to break through that,” she says, recalling one student whose parents did not want her to open a bank account.
Viau says that during COVID, the lessons in MarketWorks have become even more valuable for her students.
Planning Ahead for an Emergency
“We talk about the importance of having an emergency fund,” she says. “When you’re 16 you’re not thinking about things like that. But many families have lost their jobs and their incomes. Students say to me, ‘Now I see what you’re talking about.’”
After hearing about MarketWorks from their kids, parents have come to see the value in financial literacy. “A parent came to me and said, ‘This is the most important class in the school,’” says Viau.
One of the biggest takeaways is that students who complete MarketWorks leave the program with a sense that they too can be investors. “They come in thinking that investing is something for the 1 percent or for other people,” Viau says. “But they can do all of this stuff. You don’t have to know everything or have an MBA to do this.”
Students and families at home can access MarketWorks through the EVERFI Remote Learning Portal. To get started, select your state and student’s school, register and navigate to the MarketWorks course.
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