Fear of Finance: Financial Literacy and Planning for Postsecondary Education

Conference Highlights

Share what you learned or see what you missed!

The conference brought together leading researchers discussing their work in educational financial literacy and innovators sharing their approaches to improving financial literacy.

If you missed the conference or want to share what you learned, you can access session summaries (below), as well as the program and speaker biographies.

Click here to read about organizations (many of whom participated in HEQCO’s recent conference on financial literacy) that are on the ground and making a difference in the field of educational financial literacy.

Educational Financial Literacy
Organizations on the ground and making a difference

The following organizations (many of whom participated in HEQCO’s recent conference on financial literacy) are on the ground and making a difference in the field of educational financial literacy. Among the goals of the November 2011 conference was to create a network of groups and individuals with a shared interest in improving financial literacy and access to higher education, especially among low-income groups. Connect away, and if your organization isn’t here, let us know.

ABC Life Literacy Canada is a non-profit organization that inspires Canadians to increase their literacy skills. The organization connects and mobilizes business, unions, government, communities and individuals to support lifelong learning and achieve its goals through leadership in programs, communications and partnerships. ABC Life Literacy Canada envisions a Canada where everyone has the skills they need to live a fully engaged life.  Among its initiatives is Money Matters, a new financial literacy and education savings pilot program for adult learners developed with founding sponsor TD Bank Group and the Government of Canada.  The program brings TD Bank Group volunteer-tutors into community learning centres across Canada to teach numeracy and financial skills. Learners also receive information about the education savings opportunities available from the Government of Canada as well as resources available to them.  

Brock University’s Neighbourhood Access Initiative (Youth University)isincreasing thenumber of youth who pursue postsecondary education in Niagara Regions priority areas — neighbourhood by neighbourhood. The program, led by Brock student volunteers, is designed to follow youth from Grade 6 to high school and involves mentoring, tutoring and after-school programming. A key component of the program brings participating students and their parents to visit Brock University and learn more about all aspects of planning for postsecondary education, including application assistance and financial planning. Through integrated and sustained engagement, the program fosters self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, helping young people realize their interests and skills and connect with possible careers as well as civic causes to motivate lifelong learning. The program also supports in-class development of literacy and math skills.

Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy (CCFL) is a division of Social and Enterprise Development Innovations (SEDI) and was created to build and develop financial literacy among low-income Canadians. It works with governments, businesses and communities to help people save and invest wisely.  Launched in 2008, the CCFL is the first of its kind in the country, delivering easy-to-use money management training to low-income groups and working through partnerships with community-based social agencies in an effort to effect positive change.

Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE) wasestablished in 1974 as a national non-profit, non-partisan organization that promotes the enhanced economic capability of Canadians.  Its activities include resource production, research, curriculum development, seminars, workshops, conferences and strategic planning/advisory services. CFEE maintains a database of more than 5,000 classroom teachers and programs reach approximately 300,000 students across Canada each year.  CFEE works in collaboration with provincial ministries and departments of education.

Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation has been dedicated to bringing higher education within reach for Canadian families for 52 years. As the originators of education savings in Canada, the foundation is a passionate advocate promoting the importance of saving for postsecondary education, managing more than $3.7 billion in education savings on behalf of 280,000 families across Canada.  Over its history, the foundation has returned more than $2 billion in savings to help support the postsecondary education of hundreds of thousands of Canadian youth, while helping shape the education savings industry through innovation, advocacy and by sponsoring the Canadian Scholarship Trust Plans. 

Career Trek is a Manitoba-based, not-for-profit, charitable organization that provides students as young as age 10 with hands-on career experiences with hopes of tapping their potential and passion to pursue postsecondary education. With five programs and projects spanning Manitoba, Career Trek also educates participants on the required high school courses they need, and which postsecondary institutions they could potentially attend to pursue a specific career. 

Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Inc. is a national non-profit organization that educates consumers about personal finance.  Its services include workplace and community-based workshops and seminars, one-to-one counselling and on-line learning resources. More than 10,000 individuals participate annually in learning programs on budgeting, credit rating, credit card use, debt reduction and personal finances.

Credit Canada is a registered Canadian charity that provides free debt counselling.  Established in 1966 and an accredited charter member of the Canadian Association of Credit Counselling Services, Credit Canada  offers an array of professional credit counselling services and debt management programs.

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is an independent body working to protect and inform consumers of financial products and services. Established in 2001 by the federal government, its mandate is to strengthen oversight of consumer issues and expand consumer education in the financial sector, including providing timely and objective information and tools to help consumers understand, and shop for, a variety of financial products and services.

Financial Literacy Action Group (FLAG) is a coalition of non-profit organizations that raises awareness of the need for financial literacy and highlights the programs, services and tools available to help Canadians improve their financial knowledge, skills and confidence. FLAG organized the 2011 observance of Financial Literacy Month.

Financial Literacy Group is a full-service consultancy based in Washington, DC, specializing in helping organizations of all types and sizes teach people about money. It focuses on designing, developing and implementing compelling and impactful programs, tools, research, program evaluations and campaigns involving personal finance, and provides strategic direction and tactical support to organizations contemplating their overall approach to the subject. FLG consists of a team of international experts from the US, Canada, the UK and other nations. Recent  projects include development of access and attainment strategies for a postsecondary institution, an evaluation of a high school-based program and a national survey on youth opinions of the financial system.

Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) is a not-for-profit organization that develops, promotes and enforces professional standards in financial planning through CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® certification, and raises Canadians’ awareness of the importance of financial planning. FPSC’s vision is to see Canadians improve their lives by engaging in financial planning.  Currently, there are more than 18,000 CFP professionals in Canada and more than 133,000 CFP certificate holders in 23 countries worldwide. A proud member of the Financial Literacy Action Group, FPSC encourages Canadians to improve their “hiring literacy” when choosing a financial planner. Canadians should be aware that the business of providing financial advice is not regulated by the government, and that it is not mandatory for financial planners to have designations or be accountable to an oversight body.

Investor Education Fund (IEF) is aleading not-for-profit authority in financial literacy, education and research. IEF helps Canadians get answers to their money questions with unbiased and independent financial resources at www.getsmarteraboutmoney.ca  IEF also helps teachers integrate financial literacy into the classroom, and educates students and teachers through innovative programs like the Taking Stock in Your Future curriculum tools and Funny Money for High Schools assembly programs. Delivered by nationally known stand-up comedians, the award-winning Funny Money presentation introduces the basic concepts of good money management to students in grades 11 and 12. Other programs include the popular blogger program Masters of Money, which taps Canada’s major financial experts to provide Canadians with expertise on a broad range of personal finance issues.  IEF was established by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) and is funded through OSC enforcement settlements. IEF was awarded Gold for Leadership and Innovation in the 2010 Public Sector Leadership Awards.  

Junior Achievement (Canada) is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. Junior Achievement programs help prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs that make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Students put these lessons into action and learn the value of contributing to their communities.

Life After High School (Ontario) is helping Grade 12 students and their families better understand college, university and apprenticeship options, navigate the application process for OSAP and overcome barriers that may discourage students from applying to college, university or apprenticeship. More than 9,000 students at 37 high schools across the province are participating in the program, in which the Ontario government has invested more than $2.2 million over three years.  A pilot for the program is underway and continues through May 2012 with development and evaluation being handled by the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation and Professor Phil Oreopoulos of the University of Toronto. Both have been involved in testing a similar project in British Columbia. The Ontario program is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Education.  Also see http://news.ontario.ca/tcu/en/2011/06/helping-students-prepare-for-life-after-high-school.html.

Money School Canada provides young Canadians with access to practical personal finance information for use in the real world. Developed by educators and money management experts with rich experience in financial literacy for kids, Money School Canada’s Financial Basics workshops are offered in a three session format – Financial Goals, Budgeting and Borrowing/ Credit. Programs are available tailored to elementary, middle or high school students. Sessions can be integrated in-class during the regular school day or as an after-school program, subject to demand and the needs of parents and teachers. Money School Canada’s goals are to ready a new generation of financially savvy young Canadians who appreciate the value of money and smart spending, have a firm understanding of the basics of personal finance, take pride in their basic finance know-how and put it into action, and begin to take responsibility for their financial decisions and future. 

Omega Foundation develops and supports initiatives that promote financial self-sufficiency through microfinance and enhancing the savings capacity and financial literacy of low-income families. In addition, the foundation supports the development of philanthropic responses to community needs using capital endowments to ensure long-term solutions are found for pressing community needs. Omega’s SmartSAVER program seeks to strengthen low-income Canadian families’ ability to save for their children’s postsecondary education, as even a modest amount of savings set aside for education significantly increases the rate of participation. A three-year pilot project in Toronto is working to increase the level of awareness and participation among low-income families in the federal government’s Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) program and the supplementary Canada Learning Bond. Funding partners include the Federal Government through HRSDC, the McConnell Family Foundation, the Trillium Foundation, the George Cedric Metcalf Foundation and ScotiaBank. Program partners include the YMCA, Working Women’s Community Centre, The United Way, Royal Bank, and Maytree Foundation. 

Ontario Business Educators’ Association (OBEA) was established in 1895 to contribute to the professional growth of business educators through two annual conferences, teacher workshops offered across the province, newsletters and a website.  OBEA  provides a forum for stimulating ideas and also conducts provincial contests for students taking business subjects.  OBEA also works with the Ontario Ministry of Education to develop business studies courses and guidelines. OBEA is the only organization that represents business teachers in the classroom at the provincial level.

Ontario College of Art and Design University’s CREATiveFund$: Art, Design and Finance is a student- designed resource for students who want to learn more about managing their money. It is supported by OCAD’s financial aid and awards office and features a monthly series of news and tools to help students become financially successful.  And for artists and designers in school or out in the world, OCAD offers an on-line or print version of Do What You Love: Financial Planning for Artists & Designers, a step-by-step financial planning guide with examples, web links, interactive and savable worksheets, financial tips and stories from students and practicing artists and designers, a quiz to take before and after completing the book and a comprehensive resource section. 

Ontario Ministry of Education has developed documents for teachers thatsupport the government’s commitment to make financial literacy a part of every student’s learning from grades 4-12 as of September 2011. The Financial Literacy – Scope and Sequence of Expectations materials will assist teachers with planning their programs while incorporating financial literacy knowledge and skills.

Pathways to Education Canada isa charitable organization that helps youth in low-income communities graduate from high school and successfully transition into postsecondary education or training. Pathways removes systemic barriers to education by providing leadership, expertise and a community-based program proven to lower dropout rates. Today, Pathways operates in 11 communities across Canada with programs in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Manitoba.  Its core program provides a comprehensive set of academic, social and financial supports to youth. Working alongside the school system, and through a force of volunteers, the program delivers after-school tutoring, mentoring and financial assistance to overcome the barriers that can stand in the way of education. The results of this unique program have been ground-breaking, reducing high school dropout rates by more than 70 per cent and increasing the number of youth going on to college or university by over 300 per cent.

Pape Adolescent Resource Centre (PARC) is a preparation for independence program serving youth in care and former youth in care of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, the Catholic Children’s Aid Society and Jewish Family and Child Service between the ages of 15-24 years. PARC works with youth to help themselves and each other through their transition to independence and self-sufficiency. Support is offered to young people in the areas of employment, education, housing, identity, sexuality, emotional/mental health, substance abuse and life skills. Educationally, staff members help young adults apply for CAF scholarships, host an alternative high school, and provide weekly seminars on skills such as financial literacy and nutrition.

Red to Black is a free financial literacy/personal finance initiative of Texas Tech University. Its mission is to provide students with peer assistance for their personal financial needs, staffed by trained volunteers who are students majoring in personal financial planning at Texas Tech.  The program also offers outreach services including presentations and seminars for classes and student groups on personal finance topics, as well as confidential individual financial counseling and planning services.

Ryerson University’s $tart $mart is an award-winning financial literacy education program that provides diverse audiences with the skills they need to achieve financial success. Its mission is to increase the quality of life and standard of living of each participant in the program, ensuring they gain financial independence through customized education plans. $tart $mart facilitators are Ryerson University students learning fundamentals of financial management and educating individuals across the Greater Toronto Area. Working with middle school students to single mothers to homeless youth, $tart $mart customizable education plans allow flexibility to teach to any audience. Last year, $tart $mart hosted 134 seminars to educate over 600 individuals locally. 

Social and Enterprise Development Innovations (SEDI) is a charitable non-profit organization whose mission is to reduce poverty by expanding social and economic opportunity for low-income Canadians. Its current focus is on financial literacy, saving and asset building, and entrepreneurship. SEDI develops promising ideas into pilot programs and tests them in partnership with community groups, businesses and governments across Canada.  SEDI administers the TD Financial Literacy Grant Fund, which supports community-based financial education programs.  SEDI is committed to joining forces with community, government and business to help all Canadians, particularly those on low incomes, build a better financial future. 

Studentawards Inc. is a free scholarship matching service that helps high school, university and college students find information about scholarships, bursaries, grants, fellowships and other forms of financial assistance. Its web-based research service has 500,000 student members. Studentawards.com’s search engine matches members with scholarships, bursaries and cash prizes, delivering customized lists of awards based on profile information that members provide when they register at the site. The national and bilingual database contains over $70 million in available awards, including hard-to-find and institutional prizes; only 54% of the scholarships in the database are merit-based. 

TD Bank Group has a strong commitment to financial literacy.  To help draw widespread attention to the issue, financial literacy was the subject of a TD Economics paper in 2010, Dollars and Sense: The Urgent Need for Lifelong Financial Literacy. In the report, TD called for a national strategy that equips Canadians with the necessary information and tools to make sound financial decisions. Its many investments in financial literacy initiatives include the United Way Toronto’s Financial Literacy Program where TD employees  volunteer to deliver financial literacy workshops in community agencies across the city; an $11 million commitment to set up the TD Financial Literacy Grant Fund, administered by SEDI (Social and Enterprise Development Innovations) and providing grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 to not-for-profits who can help economically disadvantaged groups improve their money management skills; and $3.5 million to the Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy to help train their people and build skills among community agencies that work to improve financial literacy.

Toronto Youth Job Corps (TYJC) Financial Literacy: Lessons for Life provides youth, newcomers, women and persons with disabilities access to current and relevant information that leads to better understanding of money management and financial decision-making — from simple daily spending and budgeting to choice of insurance, banking or investment products, to saving for major life events such as education, home purchase and retirement.  These decisions and behaviors have profound impacts on the financial security, wellbeing and inclusion of individuals and families.  Services include financial workshops covering over 40 financial topics, one-to-one confidential financial counselling and problem solving and financial literacy workshops delivered at community agencies upon request.  Financial literacy workshops and counselling are available to all clients registered with a community non-profit agency. TYJC also delivers workshops, upon request and at no cost, at non-profit community agencies. 

United Way Toronto’s Financial Literacy Strategy is focused on equipping low-income people with the knowledge they need to make informed financial decisions, build their financial assets and prevent the deepening of poverty, by providing helpful tools to individuals and families so they can successfully make the transition to financial stability. The strategy is designed to build financial literacy capacity throughout the United Way’s network of agencies to improve long-term well-being for people living in inner suburban neighbourhood across Toronto.  (Also see U of T Centre for Community Partnerships and TD Bank Group.)

University of Toronto Centre for Community Partnerships (CCP) supports local community-based organizations by linking academic courses and student groups to community service – creating a powerful learning experience while helping strengthen communities. .  The CCP is part of a program that provides financial literacy workshops in United Way funded-community groups in the GTA.

Working Group on Financial Literacy was convened at the request of the Ontario Ministry of Education to gather information and conduct consultations about ways to embed financial literacy education into the Ontario curriculum. Its report was published in 2010 and presents the results of the Working Group’s information gathering and consultations. The report’s recommendations reflect an exploration of financial literacy initiatives in Canada and around the world; consultations with stakeholders across the province; responses to an online survey from students, parents, school boards, educators and interested members of the public; and presentations from researchers and others with expertise in financial literacy.