OLR Research Report

January 18, 2008




By: Meghan Reilly, Legislative Fellow

You asked for information on Connecticut programs hosted by schools, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, and state agencies designed to improve children's financial literacy. OLR Report 2008-R-0024 describes programs offered in the state's public schools.


Current youth financial literacy programs address topics ranging from budgeting and saving to credit cards, debt, and paying for college. The programs reach between 2,100 and 2,180 youngsters across the state. The Treasurer's Office offers money management and savings programs for elementary schools and, for older students, programming on credit cards, paying for college and automobiles, managing money, saving, the stock market, and the state economic market. Junior Achievement of Southwest New England (JAConn) combines in-class learning with after school activities. In the elementary grades, JAConn focuses on banking and a student's role in the worldwide economy. For older students, JAConn addresses the economic value of education, career options, banking, and goal setting. Youth Service Bureaus include finance lessons in a range of leadership, life skills, and GED programs. Several Boys and Girls Club branches offer a Money Matters seminar. The Girl Scouts of America teaches girls about money management, investing, and entrepreneurship.


The Treasurer's Office is working to raise youth financial literacy through coalitions and school-based programs ( On a broad scale, the office is a founding member of Connecticut Jump$tart Coalition, a public/private nonprofit collaboration researching and developing action plans to prepare young people to manage their personal finances. Since 2005, the office has partnered with several organizations to offer an annual financial education conference on budgeting, credit management, auto finance, college savings, and investing. The conference has drawn over 700 students to date from dozens of high schools across the state. Information is not currently available on participation rates in the other school programs.

Elementary School Programs

The office partners with financial institutions to offer school programs promoting saving, planning, and money management. For elementary school children, the office partnered with the Hartford Animation Institute (HAI) to produce “Scruples” Youth Financial Education Animation Videos, promoting responsible money habits for kids. In addition, the office and HAI joined The Hartford Courant to present educational vignettes for school, community, and media use. The office and the state Department of Education (SDE) have encouraged local financial institutions to provide bank-at-school savings and education programs.

Middle and High School Programs

For older children, the office addresses credit card use, paying for college, managing money, paying for automobiles, matching personal savings accounts, the stock market, and the state economic market. The office is collaborating with SDE and several organizations to provide education curricula on various aspects of money management. Topics generally include budgeting, banking, finance, credit, saving, investments, and insurance.

For the ABCs of Credit Card Finance, the office collaborated with the Center for Student Credit Card Education and SDE to publish a credit education guide and training modules. The topics include budgeting, hidden costs of credit cards, choosing the best card, credit scores and reports, consequences of irresponsible use, and other credit-related subjects.

Partnering with JAConn, the office presents the Junior Achievement Personal Economics Program, focusing on personal and family financial management. Topics include budgeting, family finances, using credit wisely, paying for college, owning an auto, the stock market, and entrepreneurship.

The office joins Consumer Action to provide brochures and training materials on personal finance topics including saving and wealth building, credit establishment and repair, banking, managing money, bankruptcy, scams, and talking to youth about money. The brochures are designed for parents and educators and are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean.

Connecticut Individual Development Account (IDA) programs provide matched savings accounts for low- and moderate-income young people. They teach about banking relationships and planning to achieve financial goals. The program has a financial education training component and requires regular bank account deposits over a program savings period. Youth IDA programs are administered by the Department of Labor and community organizations.

The office is also collaborating with the CT Council on Economic Education to offer a classroom training tool with a stock market trading simulation. In collaboration with JAConn and the CT Council on Economic Education, it organizes field trips for high school students to the New York Stock Exchange.

The office also makes financial periodicals available to students. One quarterly publication features news articles, research findings, feature stories on the business market, economic conditions, and consumer population trends in the state. Another is a quarterly young adult magazine focused on financial advice, career planning, and stories on young celebrities.


Junior Achievement Worldwide is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by corporate and individual contributors. The Hartford JAConn office covers all of the state except Fairfield County. In the 2006 – 2007 school year, 912 high school students participated in JAConn programming, out of the 31,000 students in the area served. JAConn

has expanded its financial literacy programming for 2007 – 2008. Numbers for 2007 – 2008 will not be available until the close of the school year.

Elementary School Programs

JA Dollars and $ense encompasses economics and business curricula for students in grades three through five. Using required, after-school, volunteer-led activities, it enhances students' learning of banking, business, business plans, earning, entrepreneurship, expenses, income, interest, job skills, market research, mentoring, money management, profit, role models, saving, self-employment, service, sharing, spending, start-up costs, withdrawal, and work ethic (

The JA Biztown program combines in-class learning with a day-long visit to a fully-interactive simulated town facility. Through daily lessons, hands-on activities, and active participation, students develop a strong understanding of the relationship between what they learn in school and their successful participation in a worldwide economy (

Middle and High School Programs

JA Economics for Success explores personal finance, education, and career options, demonstrating the economic benefits of staying in school for students in grades six, seven, and eight. Through six volunteer-led activities, the program enhances students' understanding of credit, debt, decision-making, gross income, insurance, interest, needs and wants, net income, risk, and the world of work (

JA Finance Park helps students build a foundation for making intelligent personal financial decisions using hands-on site-based experiences with in-school, teacher-led activities. It enhances students' knowledge of banking, budgets, buying, careers, choices, consumers, credit, debt, exchange, expenses, income, interest rates, investments, money, opportunity costs, saving, scarcity, social security, and taxes (

A program called Junior Achievement Presents: The NEFE High School Financial Planning Program introduces students in grades nine through twelve to the importance of making wise financial decisions. The program demonstrates the importance of planning, goal setting, and thoughtful decision-making within the context of personal financial decisions. Through five volunteer-led sessions, with twenty-four additional teacher-led sessions available, the program focuses on goal setting, financial choices, budgeting, saving, spending, investment, credit, identity theft, fraud, and insurance (


Twelve Youth Service Bureaus (YSBs) offer six categories of financial literacy programs, according to a survey of the 94 YSBs by East Haven YSB Coordinator Bob Petrucelli. In total, the programs reach between 93 and 173 youth. Petrucelli indicated that many YSBs not offering programs expressed an interest in incorporating the information into existing programs, should funding be available.

The YSBs coordinate youth employment programs for year round or summer youth employment, all of which include financial education sessions. These sessions reach between 12 and 40 students.

Leadership Training programs through YSBs include at least one session on money management, attracting between five and 25 high school students. Community Life Skills programs include at least one session on finances, reaching eight to forty middle school and high school students. Finances are also part of the YSB Transitions to Work program, attended by 18 students statewide.

The Shelton YSB offers a special presentation on financial information twice a year to the 50 youths entering their town's GED program.

YSBs also provide individualized financial consulting to older adolescents referred by the Department of Children and Families or juvenile court judges.


The Connecticut Alliance of Boys and Girls Club, Inc. offers a Money Matters program to youth at approximately eight Boys and Girls Club branches, reaching a total of 395 students, according to information provided by the Connecticut Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs. Table 1 shows participation rates by branch.

Table 1: Boys and Girls Clubs Money Matters Program Participation


Money Matters Program

Number of Participants













New Britain

Information not available






Information not available













Begins Spring 2008




New Haven

Information not available









Information not available



The Girls Scouts of Connecticut offers CentsAbility, a program for girls ages eight to 14 to learn personal money management, investing, and entrepreneurship. Partnering with NASDAQ, the Girl Scouts developed a program called The Girls Guide to the Financial Good Life, where girls trade pretend stocks in the Online Stock Market Game and have the opportunity to travel to New York to tour the NYSE trading floor. Another activity, The Penny Project, integrates environmental responsibility with financial literacy. Participation rates in these programs are not available.