As a leader in the financial services industry, Great-West Financial has seen firsthand the need for improved financial literacy. To that end, they created their signature community program, the Great-West Great-Teachers personal financial literacy initiative in Colorado. Since 2010, this signature program has provided over $2.4 million dollars to teachers, school districts, and nonprofits statewide to help bring financial education programs into Colorado’s preschool through 12th grade classrooms.
Great-West Great-Teachers was instrumental in bringing JA Finance Park to Colorado students. The JA Finance Park experience begins in the classroom with an in-depth curriculum that culminates in a day at the park. The curriculum directly fulfills new state-mandated economic, math and reading, writing and communications content standard which also include 21st century skills and concepts for middle and high school students. During their visit to JA Finance Park, students become an adult for the day and immerse themselves in a reality-based decision-making process addressing aspects of individual family budgeting including housing, transportation, food, utilities, healthcare, investments, philanthropy and banking.
To date, 24,500 middle and high school students have benefited from the experience. Students report that their visit to JA Finance Park encourages them to change their spending habits and to not live beyond their means. The experience also makes them more confident in planning for their financial future.
Junior Achievement also worked with Great-West Great-Teachers and the Colorado Council for Economic Education (CCEE) to provide the personal financial education training workshops for JA teachers. The workshops helped teachers better apply the economic principles found in the JA and CCEE curricula to the new state standards for personal financial literacy and economics. Thanks to the support of Great-West Financial, educators attended at no charge.
To date, more than 400 teachers have benefited from this unique training. Teachers reported that 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 learned 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.”
Great-West Great Teachers also provides generous financial and volunteer support through the Colorado Jump$tart coalition, which has provided more than 600 P-12 educators with personal finance education. This professional development opportunity has proven to be “life-changing” for the participating educators as it is the first time many of them have had access to important money management topics. Educators armed with personal finance education are better prepared to provide personal financial literacy to their students. Educators who participated in the 2013 Fiscal Fitness Workshops presented by Great-West Great-Teachers impact between 10,815 and 21,535 students in Colorado classrooms each year.
Great-West Financial also joined forces with Young Americans Center for Financial Education to expand their Money Matters program. Thanks to the support of Great-West Financial, the program’s outreach efforts grew to serve families and schools in low-income communities.
Great-West Great-Teachers, through Great-West Financial, is making significant investments to advance the financial and economic literacy for Colorado’s young people and JA is a grateful partner in this effort.