On the heels of many events highlighting the importance of reading in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I am writing to raise awareness that April is Financial Literacy month.

While appropriately, there is a widespread commitment to promoting the importance of reading, there is frankly a lack of dedication to financial literacy, which could have a detrimental impact on a person’s future. Many studies, such as FINRA’s Financial Capability in the United States, have found that most Americans lack a basic understanding of many financial concepts. The study revealed that only 14 percent of respondents were able to answer five fundamental financial literacy questions correctly.

Financial literacy month is the perfect opportunity to stress the need for increased financial education and that it needs to start with our youth. Teaching our children these important concepts can help them establish and maintain healthy financial habits that will last them a lifetime.

This month, Univest is looking forward to participating in Teach Children to Save Day, as banks nationwide visit local schools to educate students in kindergarten through eighth grade about the value of saving. Now in its 20th year, this financial literacy event officially takes place on Friday, April 20, but there is so much more we can and should do all year to ensure we are giving our youth the tools they need to be financially savvy.

According to the 2017 Financial Report Card from Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy, Pennsylvania was one of 11 states that received an F grade for its lack of financial literacy course requirements. Students in these states are able to graduate without ever having the opportunity to take a course that includes financial literacy instruction.

In light of these disappointing stats, it is apparent that we need to step up to help educate our youth. When students learn how to handle real-life situations such as how to create a budget, balance a checkbook and manage their own money, they are more likely to adopt financially responsible behaviors in the future. Research shows that these individuals typically spend less, save more and avoid accumulating substantial debt in their adult lives.

There are significant strides to be made, but together we can make a difference.

What Teachers Can Do

According to a 2016 report from PwC, 92 percent of K-12 educators believe financial education should be taught in schools, but only 12 percent do so. Many of those teachers said they don’t feel qualified or are lacking appropriate materials. Univest can help. We have experienced presenters who follow nationally approved financial curriculum developed by the American Bankers Association. If you’re interested in scheduling a presentation for your students in honor of Financial Literacy Month this April, or anytime throughout the year, contact us at 215-721-2522.

How Parents Can Help

Many parents think their children are too young to learn about financial topics. However, it is a great practice to begin talking to your kids about money at a young age. You can tackle basic concepts like helping your kids understand the difference between a need and a want. You can also give your children age-appropriate chores in exchange for a small allowance which provides an opportunity to talk to them about budgeting and setting financial goals.

At Univest, we know that children are the future of our workforce and economy, so we are committed to supporting education financially and by sharing our expertise in the classroom. In 2017, our employees presented financial lessons to more than 4,500 students, and 57 percent of our $1.8 million in charitable donations was directed to youth and education. We know investing in their education now can help ensure they are able to understand general financial concepts, laying the groundwork for a successful financial future.

Jeffrey M. Schweitzer is president CEO of Univest Corp.

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