Advocacy Tool Kit

CEE strives for high school course requirements in economics and personal finance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to provide all students with core skills for college and career readiness.  To support advocacy efforts at the state and local levels, CEE has developed an online Advocacy Tool Kit.  Using the Survey of the States as a cornerstone, the tool kit includes useful information on general advocacy, basic facts about economic and personal finance education in the U.S., suggestions for interacting with elected officials, and sample legislation and rules from states with end-to-end requirements in economics or personal finance.


Why is Advocacy Needed?
What is Advocacy?
Advocacy Planning
How to Build your Case for Support
Who to Engage
How to Communicate the Message
Sample Current Legislation and Rules
Sample State Overviews

Why is Advocacy Needed?

  • Each year the CEE network trains about 55,000 teachers who serve over 5 million students, about 10% of the nation’s students. More course requirements will result in more teachers trained and more students leaving school ready for the decision they face in college and careers.
  • Only 17 states require a course in personal finance for high school graduation, and only 6 states require testing of personal finance concepts.
  • Less than half of the states, 22, require a course in economics for high school graduation, and only 16 states require testing of economics concepts.

The 2014 Survey of the States provides a clear picture of why advocacy is need.

Our Goal: High school course requirements in economics and personal finance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

What is Advocacy?

In a basic sense, advocacy is educating the public, including elected officials. Advocacy can be as simple as sharing the demonstrated success of your programs along with explaining the need and demand for your services.

Every CEE affiliate can and should be an Advocate for Economic and Personal Finance Education.

When is Advocacy Lobbying?

Educating plus the Ask: When advocacy moves from educating the public to asking for support of specific legislation or funding from a government body it becomes lobbying.

If your position prohibits lobbying, you can still advocate for more and better economic and personal finance education.  You can also serve as a resource for elected officials and provide them with information they need to make educated decisions about any legislative decisions they face.

Non-profit organizations can legally engage in lobbying.  It is best practice to engage your board of directors before embarking on any major lobbying efforts.  The 1976 Lobby Law clarified the extent to which non-profit organizations can engage in lobbying without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.  The Independent Sector provides a good overview of the laws and regulations surrounding lobbying by non-profits in The Nonprofit Lobbying Guide Second Edition Chapter 9.

As Defined by the Internal Revenue Service:

Direct Lobbying – refers to attempts to influence a legislative body through communication with a member or employee of a legislative body, or with a government official who participates in formulating legislation.

Grassroots Lobbying – refers to attempts to influence legislation by attempting to affect the opinion of the public with respect to the legislation and encouraging the audience to take action with respect to the legislation.

Advocacy Planning:

Your 10-Step Plan (from the National Council on Social Studies Advocacy Toolkit) There are many approaches to advocacy planning, but here is a 10-step process that will help assure success. A council or group of local teachers who want to move forward on this campaign should take the time to tailor this plan accordingly.

10 Steps to Your Advocacy Plan

  1. Identify an Advocacy Challenge or Opportunity.
  2. Determine the Key Audiences.
  3. Find Out What Those Audiences Currently Know or Perceive.
  4. Determine How Each Audience Receives Its Information.
  5. Establish Measurable Objectives for Each Audience.
  6. Define Message Points for Each Audience.
  7. Determine the Communication Activities To Deliver Those Messages.
  8. Decide What Resources Are Necessary To Complete Each Activity.
  9. Establish a Timeline and Responsible Party for Each Activity.
  10. Evaluate Whether You Have Reached Your Objectives.

How it looks for Economics and Personal Finance Education…

This sample plan will guide you through completing the 10-step process. The most important step is number six; where you determine the specific messages you want to share. Remember: message points should be clear and few.

  1. Advocacy Challenge: To convince the school board or legislature to require coursework in economics and or personal finance, including testing.
  2. Key Audiences:
    • State School Board Members (primary)
    • State Department of Education (primary)
    • People who support the school board members (secondary)
    • School staff (secondary)
    • Other elected leaders (secondary)
    • State Legislature, Congress and the Media
  3. Determine What They Know
    • Read past Board meeting minutes
    • Review past election materials for comments on financial literacy and economic education
    • Read newspaper coverage of Board meetings
    • Hold individual interviews with Board members
  4. Determine How They Receive Their Information
    • Interviews (based on what is discovered, new audiences may be added. For example, if members of the Board indicate that they only listen to recommendations from the superintendent then he/she is added to your audience list.)
    • E-mail or regular mail.
  5. Measurable Objectives
    • Each Board member will be given a copy of CEE Survey of the States, CEE Voluntary National Curriculum Standards in Economics and Personal Finance, and performance expectations
    • An article on the value of economics and financial literacy will be published in the state school board association journal.
    • Eighty percent of the Board will attend a seminar conducted by local social studies educators.
    • Eighty percent of the Board will attend a social studies class in a local school.
    • Bring the state social studies specialist to meet with the school board.
  6. Message Points
    • Economic and Financial Literacy is more important than ever.
    • Economic and Personal Finance education creates knowledgeable citizens and future workforce members.
    • It is only by acquiring economic and financial literacy that children can learn that there are better options for a life well lived, will be able to see opportunity on their horizon line and, ultimately, can grow into successful and productive adults capable of making informed and responsible decisions.
  7. Communication Activities
    • Prepare a cover letter and send a copy of the CEE Survey of the States, CEE Voluntary National Curriculum Standards in Economics, and Personal Finance and performance expectations.
    • Make a follow up phone call to assure it was received.
    • Submit an article to the state school boards association.
    • Deliver an invitation (written or verbal) to an information session, conference or training event.
    • Develop a plan with the schools to have board members observe an economics or personal finance classroom.
    • Deliver an invitation (written or verbal) to participate in the observation.
  8. Resources
    • Time to compose and disseminate the letters.
    • Postage.
  9. Timeline
    • Indicate completion time for each activity.
    • When working with the state legislature, make sure that your timeline coincides with the legislative calendar.
  10. Evaluation
    • Is article published?
    • Do they express an interest in the expanding economics and personal finance education across the state?
    • Do they go on the observation?
    • Have you identified one or more champions for the cause?
    • Has a board of education rule or a legislative bill been proposed?
    • The vote.

How to Build Your Case for Support

Whatever form of advocacy you are engaging in, you need to have a solid fact base to support your claims.  Through the print and interactive versions of the Survey of the States, CEE provides the basis for your case for support.  Your local programs will fill out your case, highlighting success stories of local teachers and students whose lives have been changed through economic and personal finance education.

Impact numbers:

How many teachers and students directly participate in your programs each year? How many additional students are reached by teachers participating in professional development programs? What percentage of the schools you are working with are Title I schools? What percentage of teachers show an improvement in understanding of basic economics or personal finance concepts after participating in a program?

Supporting Research:

CEE has compiled research from top industry experts and points of impact useful for making a case for the need for economic and financial literacy education in the classroom. You can find links to several of these studies on our Research and Impact page.


Classroom Visits: Invite elected officials to visit classrooms and see teachers and students in action.  This provides an opportunity to highlight an exemplary classroom program and teacher while showing why it is important for all students to learn the basics of economics and personal finance. Student Competitions: Invite state school board members and elected officials to local and regional student competitions as judges or guests. Make sure that press are also present to have photos and reporting on the involvement of these decision-makers. Teacher Workshops: Invite state school board members to participate in or observe a teacher professional development program. Utilize the state and local school boards as an outlet to reach more teachers. Award Dinners/Ceremonies: Invite state school board members, local and state level elected officials, and members of the U.S. Congress to your awards ceremonies. Honor a state level leader as a champion. This could be the State School Board Chair, the Chief State School Officer, the governor, a member of the state legislature, or a member of U.S. Congress. Request letters of recognition from elected officials for any teacher or student award recipients.

Who to Engage


Teachers who have been through your training programs are a great resource for promoting the goal of more economic and financial education in the classroom. They can provide real life examples of how these courses have helped their students face decisions outside of the classroom. Very often, elected officials love to make classroom visits and meet with their teacher constituents.

School Districts: Boards of Education and Superintendents are involved in the decision-making process of how requirements will be implemented.  Provide resources to them and examples of how the district can work with your council or center to develop and implement a curriculum.

School Districts who have embraced a strong curriculum can be used as showcases, and leaders should be identified as champions to write op-ed pieces in support of economic and financial literacy education.


In general two approaches have been taken in establishing state level mandates for course requirements, either through the State Board of Education or through the State Legislature.  Whichever approach you choose, you should establish strong partners in both state bodies to build broad support for your efforts.

State Board of Education: The State Board of Education will be involved in the writing and passage of rules related to curriculum, course requirements and testing throughout the state.  The National Association of State Boards of Education provides an online directory by state.

Chief State School Officer: While many of the curriculum decisions may be made at lower levels, such as the Social Studies Director, it is best to start at the top and establish a relationship with the Chief State School Officer.

The Council of Chief State School Officers provides an online directory of the Chiefs.

A best practice across the network is to have a standing seat on the state council’s board of directors for the current chief state school officer.

State Treasurer: In many states, the Office of the Treasurer plays a leading role in Financial Literacy education.  Here again, you should start at the top and engage the Treasurer with information about your programs as well as work with other officials in charge of specific initiatives.

The National Association of State Treasurers has contact information available for each state.

A best practice across the network is to have a standing seat on the state council’s board of directors for the current state Treasurer.

State Legislature: If you plan to pursue a legislative route, it is imperative that you have a strong supporter within your state’s legislature who will work with you on the language of the bill and make sure that the content is meaningful for teachers and students.

  • Establish contacts with the chairs of all education committees and subcommittees.
  • Offer to provide testimony at hearings on education and professional development issues.
  • Attend hearings and information sessions on legislation related to education.
  • Engage your board member who may have personal connections to these elected officials.

A best practice for all elected officials is to reach out to them before they are elected and make sure they know who you are, what you do, and why it is important.


CEE is working to strengthen relationships with other national organizations involved in education advocacy at the national level including the following:

CEE schedules regular meetings in Washington, D.C., to address education issues with particular respect to economic and personal finance education.  Our staff and consultants meet with members of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the U.S. Treasury, among others.

How to Communicate the Message

In the coming weeks we will add template documents to this section for use when communicating with the media and elected officials.  For now, you can get some ideas from the CEE Blog entries, the CEE Report, and past press releases.

Sample Current Legislation and Rules

To help guide state leaders considering new or improved course requirements, we have included resources for researching current legislation and rules for economic and financial literacy education.

Survey of the States

The Survey of the States provides an overview of the current requirements in Economics and Personal Finance across the nation. The interactive companion site,, contains an interactive map showing how the landscape has changed since the first survey in 1998 and includes state-specific links to current policy for standards and course requirements in economics and personal finance.

Education Commission of the States (ECS) State Policy Database – Curriculum—Financial Literacy/Economics Education

The ECS State Education Policy Database is a unique resource—currently summarizing nearly 40,000 pieces of enacted legislation—searchable by state, by year, and by issue. Here you can find up-to-date information on legislation and rules concerning Financial Literacy and Economics Education.

This database is made possible by your state’s fiscal support of the Education Commission of the States (ECS), a nonpartisan and nonprofit research agency. Most entries are legislative, although rules/regulations and executive orders that make substantive changes are included. Every effort is made to collect the latest available version of policies; in some instances, recent changes might not be reflected.

Sample State Overviews

Georgia | Indiana | New Hampshire | New Jersey | Oklahoma | Utah | Virginia


Georgia does not have a mandated course in personal finance.  They do have a mandated course in the principles of economics, which is tested, and 19% of the test questions are based on personal finance.

Georgia also has personal finance standards explicitly embedded within the social studies at every grade level, K-8.  They are tested at grades 3-8.


(VII) Social Sciences: ….One-third or one-half unit of Principles of Economics/Business/Free Enterprise shall be required. Systems organized on the quarter system shall add one other one-third social studies unit from the political science /government area or from the economics area or from the international relations area to the Citizenship Education and Principles of Economics/Business/Free Enterprise courses to complete the unit of credit requirement.


Here is the link to the Indiana HS graduation requirements.

The “Core 40” diploma is the default diploma for students. The list of courses included for this diploma can be viewed here.

Here are links to the documentation for personal finance in Indiana:

This is the law pertaining to the statewide testing.

At grades 5 and 7, economics is tested as part of the social studies assessment.

New Hampshire:

New Hampshire requires a half credit course in Economics as part of Social Studies for high school graduation.  There is no testing requirement.

Ed 306.46 Social Studies Program.

(a) Pursuant to Ed.306.26 and Ed. 306.27, the local school board shall require no later than July 1, 2015, conditioned on legislative approval, that a social studies education program be provided for each k-12 student in each school.
(b) The program shall prepare students both civically and historically literate, by including planned learning strategies and opportunities that: (…)

4. Provide students with appropriate learning progressions that provide knowledge and experience in the following core disciplinary areas, integrated with social studies practices and crosscutting social studies concepts: (…)

b. Economics and personal finance in the following areas:

1. Economics and the individual;
2. Basic economic concepts;
3. Cycles in the economy;
4. Financial institutions and the government;
5. International economics and trade; and
6. Managing personal and family finance; (…)

(d) For social studies education programs in grades K-12, schools shall provide for the ongoing, authentic assessment of student learning outcomes through multiple formative and summative assessment instruments that are aligned with the state and district content and performance standards. (e) Examples of such assessment shall include, but not be limited to:

1. Teacher observation of student performance; 2. Competency-based or performance based assessments; 3. Common assessments developed locally; and 4. Project evaluation rubrics used to evaluate social studies education proficiencies applied to integrated curriculum (…)

(g) Competencies in personal finance shall be a mandatory component of the required economics course. (h) For all social studies programs, schools shall demonstrate how school and student assessment data are used to evaluate, develop, and improve curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

New Jersey:

State Administrative Code 6A – Developed by the NJ Department of Education

The new N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)1v requires at least 2.5 credits in financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy, effective with 2010-2011 grade nine class.

“Twenty-first century themes and skills” include, but are not limited to, global awareness; financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy; civic literacy; and health literacy.

District boards of education shall be responsible for assessing and publicly reporting on the progress of all students in developing the knowledge and skills specified by the Core Curriculum Content Standards, including civics, financial literacy, and all content areas not currently included in the Statewide assessment program.

District boards of education shall include interdisciplinary connections throughout the K through 12 curriculum. District boards of education shall integrate into the curriculum 21st century themes and skills, which include “financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy.”


“Passport to Financial Literacy Act” House Bill 1476

  1. Personal financial literacy education shall be taught in the public schools of this state.  Personal financial literacy education shall include, but is not limited to, the following areas of instruction:
    1. Understanding interest, credit card debt, and on-line commerce;
    2. Rights and responsibilities of renting or buying a home;
    3. Savings and investing;
    4. Planning for retirement;
    5. Bankruptcy;
    6. Banking and financial services;
    7. Balancing a checkbook;
    8. Understanding loans and borrowing money, including predatory lending and payday loans;
    9. Understanding insurance;
    10. Identity fraud and theft;
    11. Charitable giving;
    12. Understanding the financial impact and consequences of gambling;
    13. Earning an income; and
    14. Understanding state and federal taxes.
  2. Beginning with students entering the seventh grade in the 2008-2009 school year, in order to graduate from a public high school accredited by the State Board of Education with a standard diploma, students shall fulfill the requirements for a personal financial literacy passport.  The requirements for a personal financial literacy passport shall be satisfactory completion in all areas of instruction in personal financial literacy as listed in subsection A of this section during grades seven through twelve.
  3. Beginning with the 2008-2009 school year, school districts shall provide instruction in personal financial literacy to students during grades seven through twelve.  School districts shall have the option of determining when each area of instruction listed in subsection A of this section shall be presented to students.
  4. Personal financial literacy instruction shall be integrated into one or more existing courses of study or provided in a separate personal financial literacy course.  School districts shall have the option of determining into which course or courses each area of instruction listed in subsection A of this section shall be integrated.
  5. The State Board of Education shall identify and adopt curriculum standards for personal financial literacy instruction that reflect the areas of instruction listed in subsection A of this section.  The standards shall be incorporated into the state academic content standards adopted by the Board pursuant to Section 11-103.6 of Title 70 of the Oklahoma Statutes and known as the Priority Academic Student Skills Curriculum.
  6. The State Department of Education shall:
    1. Develop guidelines and material designed to enable schools to infuse personal financial literacy within any course of study currently offered by the school district or offer personal financial literacy as a separate course.  The guidelines shall outline the areas of instruction to be taught based on the curriculum standards adopted by the Board;
    2. Develop professional development programs that are designed to help teachers provide instruction in personal financial literacy and incorporate the curriculum into an existing course or courses or develop curriculum for a separate personal financial literacy course; and
    3. Provide resources, including on-line modules, for integrating the teaching of personal financial literacy into an existing course or courses of study or for developing a separate personal financial literacy course.  The on-line modules shall include an assessment component for each area of instruction listed in subsection A of this section.
  7. The Department may work with one or more not-for-profit organizations that have proven expertise in the development of standards and curriculum and delivery of teacher professional development in personal financial literacy for the purpose of developing and providing guidelines, materials, resources, including on-line modules, and professional development.


Utah has a one semester financial literacy course required for high school graduation. You will note from the legislation (see link below) that the legislature did not make the actual mandate. Rather, the Utah State Board of Education put the requirement in place beginning with the graduating class of 2008. In 2014 the legislation was amended and directs the state board to adopt revised standards and objectives for the general financial literacy course that address the costs of going to college, student loans, scholarships, and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as technology that relates to banking, savings, and financial products. It also directs the state board to contract with a provider to develop an online, end-of-course assessment for the general financial literacy course, and require a school district or charter school to administer an online, end-of-course assessment to a student who takes the general financial literacy course.

Utah Code Title 53A Chapter 13 Sections 108 and 110


Virginia’s graduation requirement was implemented by the Virginia Board of Education.  In 2008–09 it reviewed Virginia’s graduation requirements and included a requirement for students to earn a full credit in economics and personal finance as a condition to graduate. The requirement was implemented for students who entered the 9th grade in 2011–12.  They must earn the credit some time before they graduate.  School divisions can decide if students must take the course in a particular grade or at any time during high school. Economics and Personal Finance– Effective with the entering 9th-grade class of 2011-2012, Economics and Personal Finance is a required course. Various options exist to satisfy the Economics and Personal Finance graduation requirement for the Standard and Advanced Studies Diplomas, including the following:

  • Economics and Personal Finance (6120/22210 (1 of 2)), 36 weeks (formerly named Finance)
  • Semester options:
    • Finance 6121/22210 (2 of 2), 18 weeks ALONG WITH
    • Economics 2801/04249, 18 weeks
  • Other courses that are aligned with the Economics and Personal Finance Standards of Learning.

The Personal Finance course (3120/02003) designated as a mathematics credit for the Modified Standard Diploma may not satisfy the Economics and Personal Finance requirement for the Standard and Advanced Studies Diplomas. However, the Economics and Personal Finance course (6120/22210 (1 of 2)) may satisfy a mathematics credit for the Modified Standard Diploma.

Virginia’s Standards of Learning set out what Virginia’s students should learn in this course.

The economics standards (the first 9) included were modeled after NAEP’s economics framework.


The documents listed below contain broad policy recommendations which can be used in support of your advocacy efforts. Additional resources can be found on the Industry Data page.

“Transforming the Financial Lives of a Generation of Young Americans: Policy Recommendations for Advancing K-12 Financial Education”
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Office of Financial Education, April 2013

The purpose of this white paper is to outline how the ongoing struggle of many consumers to manage their finances can be mitigated in the future by focusing specifically on youth financial education. The CFPB proposes a comprehensive strategy to impart personal financial-management skills to young people while they are in school. The CFPB is focusing on school-based financial education policy for two reasons: first, most Americans are poorly prepared to make informed financial decisions; second, school-based financial education has the potential to reverse the current trend of poor financial preparation for future generations of American consumers.

President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability
Final Report, January 29, 2013

The full Council reviewed, discussed and unanimously approved 15 recommendations to the President and the Secretary of the Treasury. A brief summary of each of the recommendations is found in Appendix B (and more detailed explanations of each are elsewhere in this report). The recommendations share a common element: they acknowledge that financial capability is not a “stand-alone” topic to be isolated from the rest of our lives. Financial capability must be woven into the fabric of our lives – into our homes, our schools, our workplaces, our communities, even the design and regulation of the products we use.


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