Young people entering college or the workforce are navigating an increasingly complex economic landscape. Beyond the basics of money management, they must understand fintech, alternative investments and entrepreneurship. To address this need, West Virginia University will host its 19th annual Finance University for primary and secondary teachers so they can bring advanced financial literacy skills back to their classrooms.
From July 18 to 22, educators in West Virginia and neighboring counties who teach math, business and civics will visit Morgantown for this immersive professional development conference organized by the John Chambers College of Business and Economics’ Center for Financial Literacy and Education, directed by Amy Pridemore.
“Finance University is meant to be a framework to address the realities of today’s shifting economy. It is our goal that teachers are able to take away not only a greater knowledge of financial literacy, but resources for their classrooms as well,” Pridemore said. “West Virginia educators have been through so many challenges this year. I am so grateful we are able to provide Finance University to these teachers when they do so much for our children and our state.”
Sponsorships by Next Gen Personal Finance and PRA Group helps provide teachers with lodging, meals and enrollment at no cost. Presentation topics this year include financial planning for Gen Z, insurance and risk management, student loan forgiveness, healthy consumer skepticism, home mortgages and a new addition: an overview of Bitcoin and other fintech trends. The presenters hail from West Virginia and federal agencies (including the FDIC), regional banks, national nonprofit financial literacy organizations, financial advisory firms and higher education, including WVU.
Finance University is recognized as a best practice for teacher trainings by the U.S. Financial Literacy Education Commission. Attendees receive three hours of professional development credit, and their participation satisfies the West Virginia Department of Education’s requirements to attain the Personal Finance Education Specialist advanced credential.
Donett Holcomb is a returning participant who teaches business and personal finance at Webster County High School. She uses curricula shared through Finance U, such as FoolProof Foundation’s instructional videos starring teenagers. “A lot of kids just do not know about important financial things, like checking and savings accounts and loans and their credit score. Now I have kids come up to me after school and say proudly, ‘I opened up a checking account,’” Holcomb said.
In addition, Finance University includes time for teachers to collaborate and unwind, such as an afternoon on the Adventure West Virginia ropes course—an aspect participants missed last year when the conference was held virtually due to COVID-19 precautions.
Holcomb said she looks forward to seeing friends she’s made from years past. “I like to be there and be around people. We share information, saying ‘Oh, did you know you can do it this way? I do this and this,’ and that just makes it better.”
The broader goal of Finance University is to give back to the Mountain State, according to Naomi Boyd, associate dean for innovation, outreach and engagement and the Fred T. Tattersall chair of finance at the Chambers College. Boyd, who has championed the program during her time in the College as the founding director of the CFLE, said, “For 19 years, Finance University has afforded us the opportunity to provide teachers with financial education and resources to empower the next generations of West Virginians. This program has changed the lives of so many educators and children and truly speaks to our land grant mission and desire to improve the health, well-being and economic prosperity for the state.”
Some spaces remain, and registration for teachers will remain open until Thursday, July 15. For more information or to register, visit the 2021 Finance University website or contact Amy Pridemore at Amy.Pridemore@mail.wvu.edu.