Everyone that knows me, I like to think, knows how much I believe in the family as the cornerstone of civilization. If families could effectively manage their resources – both human and financial – a lot of the “problems” our government is called upon to “solve” would not exist. Yet, I also know that most people know precious little about their financial matters and it is clear that our country needs us to know more.
So, today, I am writing to spread the word about an attempt to reach our families in their homes. I am writing about National Money Talk Night on September 16, 2010. This program is the product of discussions with Jean Chatsky, nationally known personal finance author and media personality, the Council on Economic Education, the Jump$tart Coalition, and Jump$tart partner American Express. Their discussions led to the concept of taking a night, during the back-to-school window, where parents would be asked to talk with their children about money. Generally, I do not like to promote for-profit enterprise activities. Yet, the financial literacy crisis calls for action, a change in tactics, and the partners involved in this program have moved me to promote this attempt to educate the public.
Over the past few months, the coalition of partners has worked on a website where parents pledge to have a talk with their children about money. Ms. Chatsky’s has created age-appropriate toolkits and videos for each of the following age groups: middle school, high school and college students. In preparing these videos, Ms. Chatsky worked very closely with the Council on Economic Education, a Jump$tart Partner as well as a partner of our academic department - we are home to a center for the Missouri Council on Economic Education. I mention this partnership, as the Council on Economic Education has edited Ms. Chatsky’s work for objectivity, suggested changes, and after several iterations the Council has found the end result to be a quality educational piece worthy of endorsement.
What I hope you will do is to pass this information along to people you know with children in the target age groups or with professionals who work with children in these age groups – like your public school system! The way the program is set up is for participants to go to the welcome video on the site – here's the link to their home page - as well as to their other resources. You’ll have a short 70 second video of Ms. Chatsky introducing this project and then you’ll be asked to pledge to participate and, yes, they ask if you’re an American Express cardholder and it is OPTIONAL for you to answer this question. The point is that American Express, a private company, is working with a team of not-for-profit entities to address this area of societal need.
What I am doing is encouraging you to spread the word to your friends, colleagues, teachers and the parents across the country about this attempt for change. Just think how powerful it would be for several million families to talk among their members about money and what this could do to teach their children about money.
For my fellow teachers, I want to say Thank You. Thank you for the work that you do to teach financial matters to our country’s children. I am sure that Ms. Chatsky welcomes this chance to help you do your job and to use her position as an effective messenger to extend the reach of our efforts. For me, I really love for people to find financial success – on their terms. And “their terms” often come from the talks that occur around families’ tables – at least those were the greatest gifts my parents gave to me.