We believe a comprehensive approach to improving financial education is essential. The foundation of our work at UChicago Financial Initiative is based on five pillars: Research, Advocacy, Materials, Systemic Supports, and Partnerships.
The Initiative believes that financial education materials and resources should be grounded in a solid body of research based on what individuals should know and how they learn best. Our research and development process includes:
We regularly survey the field to determine what financial education products are available, and what outcomes different products produce. This examination helps us determine both how financial education is working and also where it can be improved.
We examine research literature and information produced by financial experts to educate ourselves and stay up-to-date on the facts and information people need to be financially literate. A significant part of our work is translating this research into the practice of financial literacy education.
We regularly read and summarize scholarly literature about how people learn generally, and how they learn financial literacy specifically. We incorporate this research into our work through the design of the materials themselves, as well as explicit guidance for teachers who read and implement our lessons.
We partner with those using our materials to gather feedback on how our materials are working in real-world contexts. We collect and consider this feedback as we plan future revisions.
We engage external evaluators to analyze whether and how our materials are producing results in educational and behavioral outcomes for individuals. We use the results of external evaluations to plan for improvements.
In addition to the other work we do, the Initiative actively engages in advocacy work to raise awareness, bring about change, and create a movement around the importance of financial education. Learning is ongoing and we are working to provide education opportunities to all individuals throughout their lifetime. The Initiative advocates for:
A single semester of financial education in every high school across the country. Every student should have access to high-quality financial education.
Adult financial wellness as part of every employee benefit package. Every adult should have access to high-quality financial education and resources.
An increased focus on financial socialization in schools and homes. Conversations about money are often awkward and challenging, especially conversations we have with those closest to us. The Initiative aims to provide a way for families and friends to approach these sometimes difficult financial conversations.
High-quality materials are needed to financially empower individuals. Through extensive research, design, and feedback the Initiative helps individuals develop financial knowledge, attitudes, and decision-making skills essential to achieving financial well-being.
- Materials enable individuals to acquire and construct new knowledge, skills, and attitudes, through authentic, carefully designed decision-making experiences.
- Materials teach fundamental and critical research skills that stand the test of time and provide individuals with the ability to navigate a complex, ever-changing marketplace.
- Materials address the diverse financial contexts individuals face.
- Materials are based on learning science, behavioral change research, and the latest information on effective design of formal and informal financial education experiences.
The Initiative aims to institutionalize a broad level of supports for people to increase their knowledge and exhibit positive financial behaviors.
Extensive supports help high-school teachers improve their craft and increase confidence and competence in teaching financial education.
Learning at Home
Parents and influential adults play a critical role in students' financial education. Supports help parents talk to their children about how they view money and provide insight into their child's thoughts and feelings.
Understanding the System
Our financial system does not provide all individuals with the same choices or opportunities. Supports provide individuals with the opportunity to explore the economic environment they inhabit, including systemic barriers and inequalities that may impact their community.
Navigating the System
Financial education can indeed improve financial well-being by addressing different access and barriers to financial success. Supports help individuals learn how to make decisions based on who they are, where they are, and where they are going.
Partnerships help advance the field of financial education by sharing expertise and promoting promising practices. The Initiative engages with various stakeholders to check our assumptions, elevate our thinking, and learn from others.
We partner with researchers and practitioners to acknowledge and incorporate the perspectives offered on financial education topics and other information
We collaborate with teachers, administrators, and district leaders, to increase to teach financial education effectively and we listen to their feedback to determine their needs as the educators doing this important work.
We connect with state education departments, state treasurers, and state and local leaders to advocate for financial education and provide broad level supports.
We engage with national partners to promote access to and equity in financial education.
We enlist the expertise of external evaluators to examine the program outcomes and success.
“We live in a world with an increasingly sophisticated financial system. We’re providing an adequate foundation so people can navigate the system and make decisions with confidence.”