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Beyond the Piggy Bank: Financial Literacy for Ohio Kids

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August 31, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Some Ohio children are learning that the building blocks of financial literacy go beyond putting pennies in a piggy bank.

The Financial Literacy Experience (FLEX) program is part of several Columbus-area schools, with basic economic skills for students in third through eighth grades.

Latisha Chastang, who runs the program for IMPACT Community Action, says children learn about saving, investing, using credit, and the critical distinction between wants and needs. They also learn about college opportunities, she says, and what it will take for them to reach their personal career goals.

"This gives our students an opportunity to assess what their skills are, what talents that they have to earn income. We want them to understand that, in order to achieve goals, there is a process to build human capital."

Financial literacy is the key to getting Ohioans living in poverty on a path to self-sufficiency, says Jim Danes, program development specialist for the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies. Teaching money skills to children, Danes says, will help them not only in the future but also in the present at home.

"If the kids are starting to learn, maybe there could be a rub-off the other way, to where they could actually help some of their parents and/or their guardians as far as some of the different pitfalls that they will come up against in life, especially from a financial literacy perspective."

Starting with the Class of 2014, Ohio high school students will be required to demonstrate financial literacy proficiency in order to graduate.

The FLEX course was developed by Ashland University in partnership with the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies. It is being offered in Whitehall City Schools, Columbus City Schools and several private schools, with a goal to expand to others.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH