On June 10, 45 Denver-area educators are opting to postpone their well-earned summer vacations to take a class on personal financial literacy. They are participating in the Junior Achievement (JA) Igniting the American Spirit (Ignite) project. The goal of Ignite is to ensure that low-income students in metro Denver receive financial literacy instruction consistently and consecutively throughout their K-12 education.
One way JA achieves this goal is by working with school districts to ensure that JA’s work readiness and financial literacy programs are available to students at every grade level. In its first three years, Ignite immersed 19,125 students in 44 low-income public schools in five Denver-area school districts (Adams 12, Aurora, DPS, Englewood, and Sheridan).
Ignite also teaches teachers effective ways to integrate personal financial literacy into existing curriculum. Through Ignite, JA is working with Great-West Great-Teachers, a program of Great-West Financial and the Colorado Council for Economic Education (CCEE) to provide the personal financial education training workshops. The workshops help teachers better apply the economic principles found in the JA and CCEE curricula to the new state standards set for personal financial literacy and economics.
The June 10 training will be JA’s 17th personal financial literacy workshop. To date, 365 teachers have benefited from this unique training. Teachers’ self-reported behavior change after participating in the training:
- 88% said they would incorporate economics into their curriculum compared to 36% before the training.
- 89% said they would incorporate personal financial literacy into their curriculum compared to 21% before the training.
- 80% said they have a clear plan for a financial future, compared to 59% before the training.
In addition to gaining tools and knowledge that can be applied in the classroom, attendees learn ways to better manage their personal finances. “The curriculum offered addresses state economic standards and is a good resource,” said Nicole Gillest, teacher at McElwain Elementary School. “The class I attended also provided insight into my own personal financial knowledge.”
The personal financial literacy teacher training is presented by Great-West Great-Teachers, a program of Great-West Financial, underwriting the training and curriculum costs so that educators can attend at no charge. The Ignite project is also generously supported by the Adolph Coors Foundation, the Daniels Fund, the Anschutz Foundation and Newmont Mining Corporation. Led by JA, Igniting the American Spirit is a collaborative effort with other notable and effective nonprofits such as Colorado Council on Economic Education, Young Americans Center for Financial Education, and the Public Education and Business Coalition. More information can be found at https://www.jacolorado.org/educators/ja-ignite/.