RELEASE: Treasurer Kurt Summers, Mayor Rahm Emanuel & CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett Announce New Citywide Plan for Financial Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Names Chicago a “Model City” for First-of-its-Kind Initiative

CHICAGO – Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers today joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chair of President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans John Rogers, and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in presenting and discussing Chicago’s first-of-its-kind citywide plan for financial education at Ariel Community Academy. Secretary Duncan also today lauded Chicago as a “model city” for its coordinated and comprehensive financial education plan. The event was hosted by the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability of Young Americans, as part of their initiative to highlight cities with innovative approaches to financial education.

“The Obama Administration has worked hard to ensure all students have a strong foundation and level playing field, no matter where they were born or where they live,” Secretary Duncan said. “Chicago’s commitment to financial education furthers that vision by seeking to give children the tools and resources they need to make smart decisions now that will only benefit them the long-run. I applaud the city for aspiring to stand as a model city from which other communities across the country can learn.”

Led by the Treasurer’s Office as charged by Mayor Emanuel, the Chicago Financial Education Initiative brings together several city agencies together for the first time to develop and enact a plan to make financial education accessible to all youth, parents, and community members in Chicago. The plan calls for a two-part strategy for financial education -one that builds capacity in schools as well as in the community.

“The foundation for a first-ever comprehensive, citywide financial education program exists in Chicago and today we begin working towards that goal,” Treasurer Summers said. “By coordinating efforts from community organizations to classrooms, we can help make sure our students and their families are armed with the resources they need to be empowered in their efforts to pursue a brighter financial future. I’m excited to partner with Mayor Emanuel and the President’s Council as we engage Chicago’s stakeholders and continue towards financial empowerment for all.”

“Teaching our children better financial literacy will empower them to make better financial decisions, which will have a lasting effect on the economic prosperity of families throughout the City of Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “We look forward to continuing to work with our communities to break down financial barriers to the success of every child in every neighborhood.”

An inventory of all city services identified more than 100 financial education providers exist in Chicago. Many offer valuable financial education programs, however their services are uncoordinated and fragmented, limiting their potential impact and cost effectiveness. The Chicago Financial Education Plan brings together city agencies as well as financial education providers to establish access to high quality-learning opportunities that help build skills – such as creating a budget and owning a savings account – for all students, families, and community members.

As part of the Chicago Financial Education Initiative, CPS is developing and updating its Financial Education Guide and providing specialized professional development to teachers to highlight the interdisciplinary connections between financial education and Common Core State Standards.

“At CPS, we recognize how important a financial component is to a well-rounded education, and the Chicago Financial Education Initiative will allow us to deliver innovative financial instruction to students in grades K-12,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “Through our partnerships with the city and financial leaders, we will prepare the next generation with financial skills that will pave the way for success in college, career and life.”

During today’s event, Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson moderated a panel that included Chairman and CEO of Discover Financial Services David Nelms, Commissioner of Chicago Public Library Brian Bannon, and CPS Social Science Manager Martin Moe. The panel discussed components of the financial education plan and the roles of public and private sectors in enacting this plan.

“Chicago is in the unique position to leverage its financial education resources to launch a robust program that helps the city’s youngest residents and their families,” said John W. Rogers Jr., Chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans. “We applaud Mayor Emanuel and Treasurer Summers on their commitment to changing the way Chicago addresses financial education and investing for all citizens so they have the tools they need to realize their dreams.”
To aid in implementation, the Chicago Treasurer’s Office and Chicago Public Library were recently awarded a grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Foundation and ALA that will help make financial education resources available at public libraries and to train library staff on pulling credit scores, preparing taxes, and financial management resources. The plan will be developed with the input of community providers, many of them already providing valuable and innovative financial services.

Research indicates that lack of financial education is correlated with many undesirable financial outcomes, including incurring more costly debt, possessing lower credit scores, and having insufficient savings for retirement. Additional research suggests that targeted financial education programs are associated with improved financial knowledge, as well as other positive outcomes, like greater interest in attending college, increased occupational aspirations, or greater likelihood of starting a business.

The new Chicago Financial Education Initiative will be implemented over three years with a goal of helping to provide all Chicago students and families with the skills and resources needed to make informed personal financial decisions that lead to a future of financial empowerment.

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