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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Teaching kids how money works

About time

On May 17 General Treasurer Seth Magaziner announced the Rhode Island launch of a new web-based financial education program designed to empower middle school students with essential skills to make sound financial decisions.

The MassMutual Foundation is providing the FutureSmartSM program to all Rhode Island middle schools at no cost to the schools or taxpayers. Schools will begin using the new curriculum in the 2016-2017 academic year.

"Today we are proud to announce that every middle schooler across the state will have the opportunity to gain competency in financial literacy, thanks to the MassMutual Foundation," said Treasurer Magaziner.

"It's vitally important that young people across Rhode Island understand personal finance and how having a good credit score will help them succeed. Yet research shows that only 43 percent of parents feel prepared to have these conversations with their kids at home. The FutureSmart program will put Rhode Island middle school students on a firm path to developing lifelong financial skills."

By the time adolescents reach middle school, they have already developed the capacity to understand complex economic concepts and are beginning to understand consumer culture, make judgments, and assign value to purchases and brands.

FutureSmart supports these important middle-school years by empowering students to become the stewards of their financial futures, and educating them on the practicalities of daily financial decisions and payoffs of long-term planning.

"Teaching young people how to manage their money and make good financial decisions is one of our most important obligations," said Nick Fyntrilakis, President of the MassMutual Foundation.

"We have provided more than 200,000 students in the 2015-2016 academic year with the knowledge they need to build better futures, and we are excited to bring this program to middle schools across Rhode Island."

FutureSmart, powered by education technology company EverFi, is a web-based program that uses the latest in new media technology -- simulations, gaming and adaptive-pathing -- to bring complex financial concepts to life for today's digital generation.

The middle school course covers a variety of financial topics including financial values and goal-setting, budgeting, saving, investing, payment types, banking, risk vs. return, planning for the future, and other critical concepts. 

The curriculum aligns with both state and national standards published by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.  The platform uniquely tracks the progress and performance of every student, and teachers use the course as an in-class activity to supplement traditional classroom instruction.

MassMutual Foundation hopes to reach more than 2 million students with FutureSmart by 2020.