Financial literacy instruction from kindergarten through high school in Rhode Island is getting a boost from legislation and a new fund created by political and community leaders. The "Financially FIT Rhode Island" fund will be administered by United Way of Rhode Island to award grants to education foundations, non-profits, and school districts to support educators, with additional funding available for professional development. The program is expected to start by the end of the year.
The fund was created by legislation guaranteeing access to personal finance education, which 36 states have already enacted for public school students. Local financial services firms have pledged $50,000 so far, and the fund will be seeded with multiyear support from Fidelity Investments, HarborOne Bank, BayCoast Bank, and the CFA Society Providence, state Treasurer Seth Magaziner said.
Mr. Magaziner, who oversees the Rhode Island State Investment Commission and the $8.1 billion Rhode Island Employees' Retirement System, both in Providence, noted that Rhode Island has the highest percentage of people living below the federal poverty line in New England. Teaching students how to manage their personal finances leads to greater economic opportunity, Mr. Magaziner said.
"Unfortunately, too many young people in Rhode Island are not receiving financial literacy education in school and are unprepared to make financial decisions that will affect the rest of their lives," Mr. Magaziner said.
The enacting legislation, which is expected to be passed soon, will require all public high schools to offer a class that includes personal finance beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, and students would be required to demonstrate proficiency in personal finance by the 2021-2022 school year.