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IPS teacher works to improve students’ financial literacy

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indiana is lagging behind most of the nation when it comes to money-matters, according to a recent study.Wallethub found Indiana ranked 45th in the nation when it comes to financial knowledge and education. Some critics worry schools aren’t doing enough to teach kids about money, and then children don’t learn until they make serious money-mistakes as adults. One Indianapolis Public Schools teacher is taking it upon herself to change that. Katrina Richardson teaches sixth grade at Clarrence Farrington Elementary, IPS School 61. Six years ago, she organized a partnership with Fifth-Third Bank, after realizing the need for financial training in elementary school. 

Wallethub put Indiana in 49th place when it comes saving for a rainy day. The study also showed the Hoosier State has some of the worst spending habits in the nation. Richardson realized she never learned how to handle her money until college, and she wanted her students to be different.

Through a 12-week course, professionals mentor the kids and teach them the basics of personal finance.

“They learn how to set a budget and make good, wise, sound decisions with their finances,” said Richardson.

The program also gets kids thinking about college and how to pay for it.

“They also provide the students with info to think about their goals for right now and how that will impact their future. So they learn about how to pay for college and how to get scholarships. We have at least three students that have a scholarship, as long as they keep their grades up, do community service and stay out of trouble,” said Richardson.

Sixth-graders Madeja Penn and Roman Moreno have both graduated from the course. Moreno already has a college scholarship lined up.

“That’s like the top of the line. This is the most important idea right now. That’s just so important in my life,” said Moreno.

Penn said she learned to save her money through the program. Last year, she put what she leaned to use and paid for all her guests to come to her birthday party.

“I saved my money for other people. [Before the program] I probably would have went to the mall and spent it,” said Penn.

Now for the the first time, this year the program is expanding to reach students starting in kindergarten.

“When you have those skills embedded in your mind at an early age, you think about how you’re going to spend your money even before you make it. It makes an impact on those decisions that you’ll make later,” said Richardson.

As the lessons start to sink in, Richardson hopes the statistics start to change.

“When our kids are getting it now, it makes more of an impact because they’re already thinking about their plan for saving, their plan for spending, and their plan for giving to others to make a difference,” said Richardson.

Eleven IPS schools have similar partnerships.

24-Hour News 8 reached out to more than 100 schools in central Indiana, and asked what kind of personal finance training is offered to students. Less than 10 schools responded to say they had some sort of effort aimed at teaching kids about money.TRAINING FOR ADULTS 

The Young Bankers Club is reaching parents too. The school hosts a session for parents to come see what their children are learning, and ask questions about their own finances. More than 300 parents attended the last session.

In an effort to improve Indiana’s financial literacy, the Small Business Association is also offering workshops for adults this month.

The “To Your Credit – Become Money Smart” workshop is on April 22 and “Financial Management for Small Business” on April 28.  Both workshops will be in the SBA office from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The first workshop will cover the basics of how your credit history affects your credit future. Topics include the purpose of a credit report and how it is used, the difference between good and bad credit, ways to build and repair your credit history and how to guard against identity theft.

The “Financial Management for Small Business” workshop will cover business financial basics.  Topics include understanding the essentials of financial management, applying financial management practices, rules, and tools most relevant for small businesses and preparing for common business financing needs – start-up finance, working capital, and fixed asset loans.

To sign up, call (317) 226-7272 ext.112 or email