The Institute for Financial Literacy began in January 2015 with the mission of providing opportunities for UAB students, faculty, staff and the community at large to learn the skills and knowledge essential to successfully manage their personal finances. The Institute aims to carry out this mission by focusing on research, teaching and service. The following is a brief summary of the Institute’s activities thus far in these three areas.
Our primary constituent is our students. Historically, we have offered one personal finance course (FN 101). Through the Institute, we have developed two new courses:
- Money and Society – an outward looking course for all UAB students that we hope to have included in the university core beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year.
- Personal Finance for Educators – a course designed strictly for Education majors (graduate AND undergraduate) to teach them how to teach the financial literacy components of the state-mandated Career Preparedness course that is now taught in the ninth grade throughout Alabama.
In addition to these for-credit courses, we are developing a professional studies series for teachers. This series will be similar to the Personal Finance for Educators course but will target teachers throughout the state who are not seeking graduate degrees. This course will give teachers continuing education credit as well as instruction on teaching the Career Preparedness course.
Our largest undertaking to-date is working with Regions Bank to develop and facilitate financial literacy programs in conjunction with two large federal grants:
- Pathways to Success - this grant awarded to Birmingham City Schools is a college access grant that will reach a cohort of approximately 4,000 students over seven years.
- GEAR UP Alabama - this grant awarded to the UAB School of Education is a state-wide college access grant that will reach a cohort of approximately 10,000 students in the Black Belt Region of Alabama over seven years as well.
In addition to these very large programs, the Institute is also facilitating two workshop series for UAB students:
- Financial Literacy Boot Camps: these 1-2 hour workshops for all students cover areas such as Paying for College, Budgeting and Basic Investing.
- Student Athlete Workshops: these 1-2 hour workshops are similar to the Boot Camps but deliver the material as it relates to the special issues of student athletes.
A major concern of many providers of financial literacy education is measuring the impact of the programs and services that they provide. The Institute has begun work on methods for measuring this impact via pre- and post- evaluations of program participants. In fact, we have developed a series of evaluations based on the type of program that we deliver. That is, we have begun to develop and evaluate different measurements for short programs (less than two hours) versus long programs (day-long workshops) versus multi-session programs in order to determine the immediate, intermediate and long-term impact of our programs.