Thursday, May 1, 2014

Girl Scouts Hosts Bipartisan Congressional briefing on Girls’ Financial Literacy

In celebration of Financial Literacy Month, Girl Scouts of the USA and Girls’ Inc. hosted a Capitol Hill lunch briefing on April 29. The event raised awareness of after-school and community-based programs that help girls learn money management in real-world, practical settings. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee spoke at the event, which had Girl Scouts and girls from Girls’ Inc. in attendance, to remind the young women of the importance of being a well-informed consumer and citizen.

Specifically, the panel spoke to the importance of and their organizations’ contribution to girls’ financial literacy. Erinn, a Gold Award recipient from Girl Scout Council of Nation’s Capital spoke of her project helping teens with autism achieve financial skills, while Brigid Howe, staff from the council, described the financial fitness challenge that reached 25,000 girls last year in the Washington, D.C. metro area.  Tyhler Raye of EverFi highlighted their new-media learning platform that uses the latest technology – video, animations, 3-D gaming, avatars, and social networking – to bring complex financial concepts to life for students.  Krystal Cason, Program Manager, and Bianca, high school senior and girl member, from Girls Inc. of New York City, described how they help girls develop skills critical to becoming financially savvy, economically independent adults, including a partnership with the Voya Foundation where teen girls build and manage diversified, real-time portfolios as part of an integrated investment- and economic-literacy curriculum.

The world’s current economic challenges have made one thing clear:  Financial literacy skills matter now more than ever.  Girls especially need to learn the basics of money management.  A higher percentage of girls are attending college and must find ways to underwrite their college education.  Additionally, most women live longer and earn less than men, single women are more likely to become first-time homeowners than single men, and more women are responsible for their own financial self-sufficiency at some point in their lives.

According to Having It All: Girls and Financial Literacy, by the Girl Scout Research Institute, girls feel optimistic about their financial futures, yet are less than fully knowledgeable about essential financial principles and instruments, from using credit cards to establishing good credit. And just 12 percent of the girls surveyed say they feel confident in making financial decisions.