Fortunately, most policymakers across the country want young people to have more opportunities than they did a generation ago. This is common when looking at proposals, bills, and laws to increase financial literacy education – many legislators and executives lament not having learned about financial literacy when they were teenagers or young adults. In New York City, both Mayor Eric Adams and Commissioner Keith Howard have praised a new initiative to boost financial literacy education by stating that they did not have such formal education provided as youth…and wish they had. They, and many other NYC government leaders, want today’s youth in the city to have the ability to build solid financial foundations and achieve financial independence.
Intro. 54-A, which is part of New York City’s administrative code (rather than a state law), will put financial literacy education into the curriculum of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) programs. DYCD provides after school, summertime, and poverty relief programs for youth ages 6-24. New Yorkers can search online for various types of services provided by educational and nonprofit partners of DYCD.
Financial Literacy Education in the Big Apple
Within the DYCD, there is a Learn & Earn program through CPC Manhattan Community Services. It provides college readiness and financial literacy education to high school juniors and seniors. Fortunately, DYCD is far from the only government organization in the nation’s largest city that provides financial literacy education to young people! The New York Public Library, for instance, has a Money Matters program. Money Matters offers free classes that include financial literacy topics suitable for young people (investing) and older people (navigating Medicare).
The city government offers financial counseling through Financial Empowerment Centers. New Yorkers who are age 18 or older can go online and book appointments at many nonprofits across the city to assist with financial planning. In terms of nonprofits, there is the Community Service Society (CSS), which hosts a Financial Advocacy Program. The program’s Financial Coaching Corps, established in 2007, provides financial literacy education in low-income areas of the city. Rather uniquely, the Coaching Corps utilizes volunteers who are age 55 and up and undergo a rigorous training course.
Although there are many active nonprofits in New York CIty that help with financial literacy, especially for those in poverty, it is also admirable that many legislators in New York state are pursuing the “gold standard” of financial literacy education. Currently, the NYC Department of Education has a six-hour series of financial education lessons developed by Newcomers High School for 11th grade students. It is part of a larger package of Career Readiness lessons developed from the material of twelve strong-performing NYC high schools. The state of New York has great resources for financial literacy education, but the American Public Education Foundation gives the state a D-grade because the resources are not part of K-12 education.
Ideally, the formal inclusion of financial literacy education in DYCD programs for New York City youth will push the state legislature a little bit closer to joining the 22 other U.S. states that have mandated a standalone Personal Financial Literacy (PFL) class for high school graduation.