Originally posted on forbes.com
As summer heats up, efforts to promote financial literacy—virtually—are also intensifying.
Improving the financial literacy of Americans has been a long-sought-after goal, but the pandemic has given rise to a new wave of free or low-cost digital options for children, teens and adults. Many venues that might have done in-person meetings or classes in the past have gone virtual. Others that previously had an online-presence are expanding their repertoire to focus more on virus-related financial issues.
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), for instance has expanded the offerings in its 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program on topics that many people might find particularly relevant in today’s climate. Through Facebook videos and online articles, the organization offers free advice on pertinent issues such as dealing with unemployment, Covid-19 budget lessons, managing a mortgage during the pandemic and disaster preparedness.
A number of banks and credit unions are also offering free webinars for people to learn skills such as money management, credit, budgeting and achieving financial goals.
Rollstone Bank & Trust, for example, has partnered with Banzai to offer free, online financial education across a spectrum of ages. Articles, calculators, and coaching sessions are available in the Wellness Center, or there are courses for children, teens and adults to teach important skills around income, savings, borrowing, insurance, taxes and other financial topics.
For its part, Regions Bank, through its financial education program, Next Step, is offering insights, resources, podcasts and webinars, as well as coronavirus-related financial guidance.
Another example is FirstFlorida Credit Union, which is running a youth financial literacy summer series this week, live on Facebook, on topics that include building a budget, emergency fund boot camp and breaking down a credit score. The content remains available on the credit union’s Facebook page, even after the initial air date of the video.
While many financial literacy events are being offered free of charge, not everything is free, so be sure you know what you’re signing up for.
GetSetup , for instance, offers an array of virtual classes to seniors on topics related to Medicare, online bill pay, using social media and other non-financial topics. Some of the classes are free, though a number of them aren’t.
Another example is Kidz Count Inc., which recently launched its Financially Fit Kidz Virtual Academy, with courses for elementary, middle or high school students. There are fees to take these six-week self-paced courses. For third to fifth graders, the fee is $45; for middle and high school students, the cost is $95.
Young Americans Center for Financial Education is also offering a mix of free and paid virtual classes on various topics such as business, money sense and investing.
There are many more online opportunities for developing financial literacy skills—whether for adults, children or teens. Many programs are being offered to local residents, so be sure to investigate what may be available through your town, city or state. Public schools and local libraries are also good resources to find information about financial literacy learning opportunities.
In the Los Angeles area, for example, there’s the Moneywise financial literacy program, a partnership between financial services firm D.A. Davidson & Co. and the Los Angeles Metropolitan YMCA. The program has been running since 2018, but the pandemic nixed the idea of live classes.
So Andrew Crowell, vice chairman of wealth management at D.A. Davidson and a YMCA board member, helped create a virtual program that’s free to students ages 12 to 18. The program is designed to focus on the communities served by the 26 YMCAs in LA county, but there are no restrictions for students outside LA county, Crowell says. The virtual program is designed to be individualized and self-paced, with students focusing on a number of areas, including saving, budgeting and introduction to investing, he says.
Here’s another local example from Massachusetts: The City of Newton’s Youth Services Department has partnered with Newton Public Schools to offer a free online course for Newton high school students and Newton residents in grades 9-12. It’s a self-directed workshop that focuses on financial literacy, resume writing, interview skills and workplace communication.
While finding some of these local opportunities may take some legwork, the time spent on that is a mere drop in the bucket compared with the critical, life-long skills being taught.