Project: Acquire and Teach Financial Literacy

Managing budgets, using credit responsibly and saving for the future…these are all important lifeskills but aren't always ones that are easy to learn. There are five key steps to beefing up your own knowledge of money matters and bringing what you've learned to your community.

  1. The first step in serving your community's need to become financially savvy is to become wiser yourself. Check out these resources that will help you to prepare to teach others.
    • To train to teach youth, take a look at:
      • AARP and Junior Achievement have partnered to create a financial literacy curriculum for youth. Visit Junior Achievement offers training sessions for those who want to be instructors. Visit to find your local chapter.
      • Ready-to-use lesson plans for teaching the basics of personal finance are available for educators at and Visit for more information.
      • The National Endowment for Financial Education offers the High School Financial Planning Program, a seven-unit course of study available for free. Go to for details.
    • For adults, take a look at:
      • Money Smart, which is a free curriculum created by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). It can be taught in a class setting and online train-the-trainer videos are available for instructors. There is also a computer-based instruction version available online or on CD-ROM. Visit for details.
      • eXtension Personal Finance is an online learning tool provided by the Cooperative Extension Service that includes in-depth learning lessons on topics such as Investing for Your Future, Planning for a Secure Retirement, and Legally Secure Your Financial Future, as well as several other financial tools and resources. Go to
      • organizes financial education resources from more than 20 federal bureaus and agencies in one place. You can find resources and tools on specific topics of interest to your students such as managing debt and credit, dealing with mortgages, and getting a loan.
  2. Once you've got a better handle on understanding finances, you can start to share this knowledge by:
    • Creating a financial literacy workshop for a specific age group covering what you've learned.
    • Going door-to-door talking to friends and neighbors about becoming financially literate.
    • Starting a club that is available at set times in public places like your local library to offer advice.
    • You will also need to assemble a motivated team, agree upon clear tasks, set reachable goals, and act with inspiration and purpose.
    • Start off planning with folks you know and ask them to tell others to join your efforts.
    • Meet regularly, especially as MLK Day approaches, and solicit input from everyone.
    • Assign concrete tasks to keep everyone motivated and on track.
    • Talk about the parallels and differences between your effort to understand the financial system and educate your neighbors and those of Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Decide how you want to reach out with financial information to your community.
    • Determine what kinds of supplies you will need for the activities you seek to do. These may include paper, pens, photocopies of curricula, certificates of completion (to make participants feel a sense of accomplishment), and refreshments.
    • Solicit funds from team members and/or others as well as in-kind donations from business for the supplies you'll need.
    • Purchase the necessary supplies before the service day and have them ready to go. Be sure to store any perishables in appropriate places.
    • Advertise the event through posters, word-of-mouth, letters in school and online networks. Libraries, schools, community centers, churches and grocery stores often have community bulletin boards that are perfect for spreading the word about your event.
    • Set goals for yourselves, such as number of people attending, age groups represented, and number of topics covered.
    • Record these goals and make sure you can meet them. Revise them if needed to goals that your whole team can agree on.
    • Post your project on our site so that people in your area can join your efforts
  3. Now it's time to get out and share what you've learned.
    • Make sure project leaders or coordinators are at the site early, ready to greet team members and participants as they arrive.
    • Officially welcome everyone and talk about the purpose of the day – taking charge of our finances, educating ourselves, and serving each other in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • Conduct your planned activities, offering continuous encouragement to all participants.
  4. After the project is completed, take some time to assess and reflect on it. Think about what went well and what could be improved.
    • Host an official debriefing meeting for team members after the service day.
    • Examine the goals you set for yourselves and consider which you met, exceeded, and didn't quite reach.
    • Who did your work impact? What did you accomplish? How did it feel?
    • Ask everyone for their honest assessment of what went well and how to improve for next time.
    • Consider what doing this work on MLK Day, in particular, meant to you
  5. We know you might not like to brag, but please do! You may inspire others to organize a fitness event once they hear what you accomplished. Share your service story. We're listening and want to know what you did and how you feel about it.

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