DC ed-tech company wants student financial literacy learning to start younger

Including financial education in public schools is gaining traction, with 12 states, including Virginia, now requiring financial literacy courses as a part of high school graduation.

D.C.-based EverFi is on a mission to make that universal.

EverFi, a for-profit company, provides digital education courses and teacher training to K-12 schools free of charge, through partnerships with corporations and foundations, and it believes teaching kids about money should begin even earlier than high school.

“Students want to learn about money. They want to learn about pocketbook issues that are going to affect them as they go off to college or enter the workforce,” said Ray Martinez, president and co-founder of EverFi. “Students at the age of 13 go through what is called financial socialization, starting to develop their norms and values in their relationships with money.”

Financial literacy courses need to be age-appropriate. EverFi’s digital courses are geared to begin in elementary school.

“For 6th grade students, they create an avatar and go through six different modules. Everything from understanding needs versus wants, how you save and how you budget. For a senior in high school, we cover everything from student loans to how you invest your money, and they even get to practice filing their taxes,” Martinez said.

While teaching kids about money should also be something that is done at home, Martinez believes these conversations are not happening around the dinner table. They can be uncomfortable conversations for parents to have with their children. Also, the questions kids have these days may be beyond mom and dad’s knowledge.

“What you have playing out today is that the financial services system moving so fast. Everything from buy now, pay later, to peer-to-peer payments, all the way over to crypto education. I was recently in Puerto Rico working with a hundred seniors, and the number one question they had was about crypto,” Martinez said.

In addition to for-profit ed-tech companies like EverFi, several nonprofits have stood up financial literacy opportunities for youth, including Operation Hope, NextGen Personal Finance, and Junior Achievement.

Since its founding in 2008, EverFi’s educational content has reached more than 45 million students globally. Its corporate foundation sponsors include Truist, Fifth Third Bank, Zelle, MassMutual Foundation, Principal Financial and UBS.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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