Awarding Innovation in Economic Education

UMKC Office of Financial Literacy Receives National Recognition for Programming

The University of Missouri-Kansas City Office of Financial Literacy was recently selected to receive the Council for Economic Education’s 2017 Albert Beekhuis Award. Each year the council awards affiliate Centers for Economic Education that facilitate financial wellness programs in their respective regions.

Last year the former UMKC Center for Economic Education changed its name to the Office of Financial Literacy for the sole purpose of expanding its programming. The office was initially set up with the single mission of training K-12 teachers to teach financial literacy, entrepreneurship and economics. The Office’s original program for curriculum and teacher support is led by curriculum consultant Dr. Patricia Palmer, a pioneer in economic education curriculum development, locally and nationally. The office’s new mandate is to connect directly with students. Office director Latoya Goree said the name change sets the office apart by allowing staff to develop programming focused on the whole person rather than just teacher support.

“Our impact stopped at the K-12 level,” said Goree. “We asked, ‘how can we make a broader impact?’ ” The programming expansion led to the office receiving the Albert Beekhuis Award.

Goree said the award selection was a complete surprise, adding that this is the first national award the office has received for its work in providing economic education. Goree said receiving the Albert Beekhius Award positions the UMKC Office of Financial Literacy as a model for other economic education centers to follow. “This award paves the way for others to look at economic education in a more innovative way.”

Since it expanded its services in 2016, the Office of Financial Literacy has made a broader impact through experiential learning programs for grades K-12, collegiate financial wellness, and community outreach throughout the state of Missouri. Beginning fall 2017, the office will begin a peer coaching program, Roo Money Sense, for UMKC students. The program will be modeled on an award-wining program, MoneySmarts, at Indiana University that helps students make better decisions about borrowing and spending. The Office of Financial Literacy provides programs on the economic impact of natural disasters for grades 6-8 and, in partnership with Prep-KC and United Way, also delivers financial reality simulations for high school students at school sites.

National programs the office provides include The Stock Market Game offered to UMKC students; Your Piece of the Pie, which teaches children entrepreneurship through literature; the National Personal Finance Challenge; the National Economics Challenge; and SmartPath, online teacher support for personal finance instruction.

Goree said most of what the Office of Financial Literacy does is free. Funding for its programs comes from the Cray foundation, SIFMA foundation, Wells Fargo Advisors, United Way of Greater Kansas City and the Walton Family Foundation. “The Office of Financial Literacy’s goal is to develop financially literate and capable individuals with strong decision-making skills to support them through high school, college and beyond,” said Goree.

“The programs offered by the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and its commitment to providing the best and most effective economic and financial education to students, teachers and the community at large; make your center most deserving of this award,” wrote Nan J. Morrison, president and CEO of the Council for Economic Education, in her award letter to Goree.

The award, with an honorarium of $1,000, is made possible by a gift from the Albert Beekhius Foundation to the Council for Economic Education. Goree will officially accept the award at the Council for Economic Education’s 56th annual Financial Literacy and Economic Education Conference in October.


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