By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Mississippi students now have an opportunity to be much more knowledgeable about money.
State Treasurer Lynn Fitch announced on Thursday a new initiative from her office that will provide online resources for the state’s schools to teach more about financial literacy. The Treasurer’s Education About Money, or TEAM, program will include lessons on such topics as credit scores, insurance, credit cards, taxes, investing, mortgages and savings.
“Our young people are afraid of money,” Fitch said in announcing the program at Renasant Bank. “They are afraid of how to handle their finances. We need to empower them.”
Fitch’s stop in Tupelo concluded a three-day, 16-stop statewide tour to announce the program. The computer-based lessons will be offered through the company EverFi and could be incorporated into a variety of courses. Teachers can have students work through them at school or could assign them as homework.
The program is available for free to public and private schools, thanks to a partnership between Fitch’s office and several sponsors. It initially will be for high schools, but Fitch said they hope to later expand it to elementary and middle schools.
“It will start students off at an early age with an opportunity to learn financial literacy,” said Robin McGraw, president, chairman and CEO of Renasant Bank, which is among the sponsors.
Tupelo Public School District Assistant Superintendent Diana Ezell said the program gives teachers another tool for teaching students about managing money.
“The more our students know about financial responsibility, the better prepared they are for the real world,” she said.As part of the initiative, the Mississippi Council on Economic Education will train teachers both on the EverFi program and on ways they can teach personal finance beyond the online lessons.
Fitch has spoken of her goal of improving the state’s financial literacy since she took office in 2012. On Thursday, she cited a report by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority that found Mississippi to be the least financially capable state in the country.
“That is unacceptable,” she said. “We have to change it.”