Eight local banks who have long supported financial literacy in Massachusetts public schools have formed a partnership to bring a popular event virtually to students this spring.
Hanover, Ma – February 3, 2021 - High school students throughout Massachusetts can participate in the Credit for Life Fair this spring via a responsive website: creditforlife.org. Designed to be a part of a high school class, the site is being designed by Stackpole & Partners of Newburyport, in collaboration with the Institution for Savings, Cape Cod 5, Bay Coast Bank, HarborOne Bank, The Savings Bank, Rockland Trust, Westfield Bank, Country Bank and FitMoney, a not-for-profit financial literacy organization.
The Credit for Life Fair, a half day event where high school students assume the roles of 25-year-old adults and spend their ‘paychecks’ on everything they will need to live, has been a popular event in many Massachusetts public schools for more than a decade. Many banks and credit unions throughout the Commonwealth host these events, using local resources and volunteers, and the Massachusetts State Treasurer’s Office of Economic Empowerment has encouraged more fairs in recent years by making grants available to schools to participate.
The pandemic has brought most of these events to a screeching halt. While several groups, including the North Shore’s Institution for Savings and Andover High School, pivoted to offer virtual fairs, attendance was down at both events. Organizers connected last summer to explore collaboration on a better virtual experience in 2021 given the inconceivability of large in-person events. They enlisted FitMoney who had given support to both spring Fairs via its partnership with New England Patriots Brandon Copeland, a passionate financial literacy advocate. Eventually the group expanded to include other banks who pooled funds to hire Stackpole for the design and implementation of the website, with FitMoney serving as fiscal agent.
“High school students need the life skills taught at a Credit for Life Fair now more than ever! Working with like-minded community banks, we have been able to create a virtual program that we are really excited about!” said Julie Beckham, AFC® Financial Education Officer at Rockland Trust “And like all of the financial education programming at Rockland Trust, this virtual Credit for Life Fair is fun, engaging and interactive.”
"Rockland Trust is deeply committed to the communities we serve. Credit for Life Fairs have been an important piece of our financial education offering and have allowed us to build stronger relationships with our local schools,” said Robert Cozzone, Chief Operating Officer, EVP of Consumer and Business Banking at Rockland Trust. "We are honored to have been included in this effort and excited to offer this experience to high school students throughout Massachusetts in a safe and innovative way this year.”
Only six states in the country require high school students to take at least one semester-long personal finance class before graduation, according to Next Gen Personal Finance’s 2019-2020 progress report, and 15 more have personal finance in another course. The remaining states – more than half of the U.S. -- don’t require students to have any personal finance education before graduating. Massachusetts is one of those states. In early 2019 Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation that allows state education officials to establish standards around financial literacy, which schools could incorporate into their existing curricula in subjects like math, business, and social sciences. It is unclear how much progress has been made on this initiative given the severe constraints put on schools by the pandemic.
The website development is in its final stages and will be beta tested by a group of educators and others in the next month. The group hopes to have the site ready for use by high schools and others by the end of March. The group is also in the process of establishing a 501 c 3 that will allow it to raise funds and plan for future school financial literacy initiatives similar to creditforlife.org.
For more information and to learn how schools and organizations can participate, email email@example.com.