Kurt Summers, Treasurer , City of Chicago.

Kurt Summers, Treasurer , City of Chicago.


The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability of Young Americans recently presented the Chicago Financial Education Initiative, a first-of-its-kind citywide financial literacy education program, at Ariel Community Academy, 1119 E. 46th St.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Chair of President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans John Rogers, Jr.; Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers; and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett were among several dignitaries who were on hand during the announcement.

“The Obama Administration has worked hard to ensure all students have a strong foundation and level playing field, no matter where they were born or where they live,” said Duncan. “Chicago’s commitment to financial education furthers that vision by seeking to give children the tools and resources they need to make smart decisions now that will only benefit them the long-run. I applaud the city for aspiring to stand as a model city from which other communities across the country can learn.”

Chicago was designated as a “model city” for the initiative that will be supported through a collaborative effort by city agencies.

“The goal here is for Chicago to be the example of what a unified education is as it comes to financial literacy so that the kids today that we’re seeing and their parents have what it takes to not be the victims of a scam and more importantly how to advance themselves in their own financial security,” said Emanuel.

Research indicates that lack of financial education is correlated with many undesirable financial outcomes, including incurring more costly debt, possessing lower credit scores, and having insufficient savings for retirement. Additionally, research suggests that financial education programs are associated with individuals having a greater interest in attending college, increased occupational aspirations, and a greater likelihood of starting a business.

“Chicago is in the unique position to leverage its financial education resources to launch a robust program that helps the city’s youngest residents and their families,” said Rogers, Jr. “We applaud Mayor Emanuel and Treasurer Summers on their commitment to changing the way Chicago addresses financial education and investing for all citizens so they have the tools they need to realize their dreams.”

To aid in implementation, the Chicago Treasurer’s Office and Chicago Public Library were recently awarded a grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Foundation and the American Library Association (ALA) that will help make financial education resources available at public libraries and to train library staff on pulling credit scores, preparing taxes, and financial management resources. The plan will be developed with the input of community providers, many of them already providing valuable and innovative financial services.

“The foundation for a first-ever comprehensive, citywide financial education program exists in Chicago and today we begin working towards that goal,” said Summers. “By coordinating efforts from community organizations to classrooms, we can help make sure our students and their families are armed with the resources they need to pursue a brighter financial future. I’m excited to partner with Mayor Emanuel and the President’s Council as we engage Chicago’s stakeholders and continue towards financial empowerment for all.”

As part of the Initiative, CPS is developing and updating its Financial Education Guide and providing specialized professional development to teachers to highlight the interdisciplinary connections between financial education and Common Core State Standards.

“Chicago Public Schools is proud to lock arms with our mayor, the city treasurer, our sister agencies and valued community partners on this citywide financial education plan that will empower every single one of our students to navigate an increasingly complex financial world,” said Byrd-Bennett. “Financial education must be the cornerstone of our agenda as we move forward with educating Chicago’s children.”

The Chicago Financial Education Initiative plan is a two-part strategy for financial education that builds capacity in schools as well as in the community. The Chicago Financial Education Initiative is slated to be fully implementation no later than 2018.