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MoneySKILL imparts Financial Literacy to WNY Youth

When you were young, who taught you about the value of saving money? Your parents? A friend? No one? If you were lucky, you had someone who imparted some advice, but chances are, that advice was very basic. Most young people are never taught the valuable lessons when it comes to money management, credit, savings, and investments, and that’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate, because in this spendthrift society, we are encouraged to purchase items as soon as we have the money. The items are the goals that we value, not the money itself.

Why is your credit score important, and how can you protect it? What should you consider before renting or buying a home? How do you calculate your debt-to-income ratio?

I recently learned of an incredible initiative that has been underway at University at Buffalo for a decade. The program sets out to teach young people the importance of handling money smartly. It’s called MoneySKILL. Recently, Buffalo Public School System students from all over the region participated in the UB directive, to learn the importance of obtaining financial literacy. Overall, 1,113 local high school students engaged with in the curriculum and the competition. 

The most interesting part of the initiative, is that it is not taught in a dry classroom. Rather, it involves a number of hands-on, interactive components including a regional competition element called MoneySKILL Mania! It’s a dynamic competition that helps to prepare students for life.

About four years ago Mania switched from an in-person game show held at UB (as depicted in the embedded video – see below) to a competition hosted at individual schools. Now, teachers submit their students’ answers to a quiz and the top-scoring student across the region wins.

It turns out that the MoneySKILL directive was developed in 2004 by a professor by the name of Lewis Mandell. Mandell was professor emeritus of finance in the UB School of Management, for the American Financial Services Association (AFSA) Education Foundation. He developed the financial learning technique as a free online curriculum. Since that time more than 700,000 students nationally have registered to take part. 

“Prior to joining the UB School of Management, I worked in banking for more than a decade and saw how a lack of financial literacy affected my customers’ decisions,” said Cynthia Shore, senior assistant dean and director of alumni engagement and external relations, University at Buffalo School of Management. “With the access to money young people have today through credit cards and student loans, it’s critical for us to provide excellent tools, like MoneySKILL, so our youth learn the fundamentals of managing their money.”

“Young people can benefit tremendously in their lives from knowing personal finance,” said Barbara Trietley, teacher, Buffalo Public School 212 Leonardo da Vinci High School. “Financial education can help young people to be more successful in their spending choices, saving for major life purchases and planning for a good retirement. I use MoneySKILL to reinforce my financial literacy lessons in our Career and Financial Management course. I look at the module objectives and align them to our class discussions and activities, and the students complete the modules on their own. Lastly, the students participate in the MoneySKILL Mania competition! MoneySKILL is a great learning tool that helps my students to be more successful. I notice a huge increase in their personal finance knowledge.”

This year, MoneySKILL Mania was held March 6-31, and teachers can use the MoneySKILL curriculum any time during the year. The initiative is sponsored by the University at Buffalo School of Management and M&T Bank.

Photos by Tom Wolf are of Barbara Trietley’s career and financial management class at BPS 212 (320 Porter Ave.)

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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