Riverwoods, IL. — Feb. 8, 2012 — Discover Financial Services announced today that it is making a five-year, $10 million investment to get financial education curriculum into public high schools across the country.
Through its new program, Pathway to Financial Success, Discover is providing grants to high schools to cover the cost of implementing a personal finance course, giving them access to a standards-based curriculum and offering teachers the training they need to deliver it.
Statistics show that a majority of Americans lack the knowledge to make good financial decisions. In a National Bureau of Economic Research study, adults scored a grade of “C” in financial literacy while high school students failed. A study by Sallie Mae showed that 84 percent of students said they needed more education on financial management topics, yet only 12 states require a personal finance course before graduation.
Personal finances aren’t being taught at home either. Experts say many parents feel more comfortable talking to their children about sex, drugs and alcohol than about money. As part of its financial education investment, Discover is launching a public service announcement “Awkward Conversations” in February to encourage parents to have the money talk with their teens, and raise awareness of the need for financial education.
“We can help change the status quo by ensuring that the next generation gets the financial education they need to make informed decisions about money,” said David Nelms, chairman and chief executive officer of Discover. “As a parent, I know it can be difficult talking to teenagers about money, but we owe it to our children to provide them with the best opportunity for a brighter financial future. Financial education is the key to this opportunity.”
Getting financial education curriculum into schools across the country is also a goal of President Obama’s Council for Financial Capability. Discover consulted with the President’s Council while developing Pathway to Financial Success.
“Discover’s leadership and investment in financial education at the high school level should be an inspiration to others to get involved” said John Rogers, chairman of the President’s Council on Financial Capability. “This is a great example of the private sector working together with the non-profit and public sectors to enable more Americans to improve their financial literacy and well-being.”
Over the next five years, Discover’s Pathway to Financial Success program will help raise awareness about the need for financial education in the classroom, and provide financial education tools and resources for schools to use in talking to students.
Nearly 90 percent of teachers surveyed by NEFE said financial education was needed in the classroom, yet only 20 percent felt competent to teach personal finance. Discover will provide public high schools with the financial resources and training needed through grants so that they can incorporate financial education instruction and measure its impact.
Discover’s investment also includes the underwriting of the Council for Economic Education’s (CEE) high-school financial education curriculum, which will be made available nationwide beginning in the fall. The curriculum is specifically designed to meet the common core standards education initiative adopted by 45 states. As part of the program, CEE will train 1,000 teachers across the country on the new curriculum.
“CEE works to provide educators with the knowledge, tools and teaching practices to help children develop essential real world skills,” said Nan Morrison, president and chief executive officer of Council for Economic Education. “With the support of Discover, we are updating some engaging and important teaching content and tools for teachers, enabling them to continue to effectively close the knowledge gap in financial capability for their students.”
Discover’s Pathway to Financial Success program also calls on parents and teachers at the local level to help advocate for financial education in the classroom. Its website, Pathwaytofinancialsuccess.org, provides parents with resources to locate and contact local school administrators about the importance of providing financial education to schools.
Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company operates the Discover card, America’s cash rewards pioneer, and offers personal and student loans, online savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money market accounts through its Discover Bank subsidiary. Its payment businesses consist of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation’s leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and territories. For more information, visit http://www.discoverfinancial.com.