Junior Achievement and Popular Bank: Advocating for financial literacy in today’s youth - Blog Popular Bank
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08.22.2018 /

Junior Achievement and Popular Bank: Advocating for financial literacy in today’s youth

According to Financial Capability Among Young Adults, a millennials-focused study, researchers for the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) discovered that less than 25% of those surveyed demonstrated “basic financial literacy.” Taken together with Who has Access to Financial Education in America Today? — the Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) study of high school students, which finds that only “1 in 6 students receive required financial education, 1 in 12 in low income schools” — and the picture grows clearer. For young people today, especially in Generation Z (those born between 1995–2010), financial literacy is becoming a rare commodity, and its impact on life matters is far reaching1.

One factor that may account for this lies at the state level. In its research, NGPF identifies five states in the U.S. that mandate personal finance coursework as a requirement for graduation — Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia. And while over 64% of high school students attend a school where a personal finance class may be offered, there is, as the study notes, “no guarantee that all students will take the course prior to graduation[.]” Graduates move into young adulthood with little exposure to financial literacy and await economic challenges similar to ones weighing on working adults today — minimal cash reserve for emergencies, rising credit card debt, and inadequate retirement savings.

Junior Achievement (JA) understands the importance of bridging the financial knowledge gap affecting today’s youth. Guided by a hands-on, experiential learning approach to financial education, JA has made it its mission to “to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.”

A member of Junior Achievement Worldwide, Junior Achievement USA®2 serves over 4.8 million students annually in all 50 states. It addresses financial literacy through programs in entrepreneurship, career readiness, and money management. Each program is uniquely led by volunteer mentors drawn from a corps of business professionals, parents, and retirees eager to invest in the next generation of business owners and entrepreneurs.

With a shared commitment to financial education and volunteerism, Popular Bank began its partnership with Junior Achievement nearly 10 years ago. With “Stars for Students,” an annual New York and New Jersey branches-wide fundraiser that encourages customers to make $2 to $5 donations toward supporting Junior Achievement life skills programs, we raised over $53,000 this past year. For JA Our City, a program held in the New York borough of the Bronx, over 20 Popular Bank team members shared personal and professional stories and helped introduce elementary school students to money management and economic exchange in big cities.

This past June, the Third Annual Popular Bank–Junior Achievement Bowl-A-Thon drew over 200 employees and their families in South Florida and raised over $58,000 to support local JA programs in the region. Popular Foundation, established in 2004 to address social and economic development in the communities we serve, also contributed $20,000 to the JA chapter in South Florida.

In November, Popular Bank team members will mix it up with Junior Achievement in another way — our volunteers will be serving and cheering on marathoners, including Junior Achievement of New York charity runners, at the 48th New York City Marathon.

To lend your skills as a volunteer mentor for Junior Achievement through your company or individually, visit Junior Achievement USA.

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