This Op-ed piece originally appeared in the 12/14/11 issue of the Credit Union Times:
It should come as no surprise that financial education is critical and sorely-needed.
A survey from The Hartford Financial Services Group found that more than three-quarters of students report that they wish they had more help preparing for their personal finances.
Unfortunately, some educators are not providing a financial education course and may be unprepared to teach the subject, according to a report from the Financial Literacy and Education Commission. As a result, many lack the confidence to teach it to students.
That’s where Biz Kid$ comes in. Credit unions have long supported financial education. It’s even part of the credit union philosophy and one of the cooperative principles. It’s what we do and also a great differentiator. Supporting and teaching Biz Kid$ is a great way for credit unions to make an impact.
And, credit unions have stepped up. Over the past six years, 260 credit union system and affiliates have raised more than $10.4 million to support the show’s production, website and curriculum.
Biz Kid$ is the Emmy Award-winning and credit union funded public television series that teaches kids about money management and entrepreneurship. Many credit unions leverage Biz Kid$ to teach financial education in schools in their community. The website (bizkids.com) also features clips from the series, a blog and newsletter aimed at kids, and invites kids to appear on the show.
The National Credit Union Foundation recently took ownership of fundraising, outreach and administrative responsibilities of Biz Kid$ from the Washington Credit Union Foundation to ensure the program gains the maximum support from the credit union system. There are now starter kits available from the foundation filled with DVDs and materials to teach Biz Kid$ to schools in their area.
Biz Kid$, which premiered in January 2008, quickly grew into a national phenomenon. It has aired on more than 340 public television stations in all 50 states with a viewership reach of 271 million people. The program has the highest recorded carriage of any children’s program ever released by American Public Television, with a viewing audience of more than 1.2 million per episode. The website is currently receiving more than 100,000 unique visitors a month hailing from about 140 countries.
One of the main goals of Biz Kid$ is to establish it as the premier financial literacy delivery mechanism for middle school students and to increase the awareness of financial literacy concepts to kids nationwide, along with the branding of America’s credit unions. In fact, every Biz Kid$ episode begins and ends with a narrator reminding viewers that: “Production funding for Biz Kid$ is provided by America’s Credit Unions, where people are worth more than money.”
Another goal of the program is to ensure that the curriculum is approved by state boards of education as an approved statewide eductional resource in the areas of financial literacy, personal economics, and entrepreneurship education for grades six through 12. As an approved teaching resource, it allows for easier access to bring Biz Kid$ into the public school system. The curriculum has been approved so far in seven states and work is underway to map to standards in additional states.
The Internal Revenue Service has adopted episode 401, “A World Without Taxes,” to use in their education program in schools across the U.S. In August, Ernst & Young also adopted Biz Kid$ to use in their programs for middle and high school students. All materials used by these entities are branded with the America’s Credit Unions logo and provides excellent exposure for credit unions proving together, we can make a difference.
Danielle Brown is Biz Kid$ program coordinator at the National Credit Union Foundation. Contact: 971-295-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Biz Kid$, click here.