Up until a few weeks ago, Abisai Espinoza was unaware of the long-term impact financial decisions can have on your life.
“I didn’t know about credit scores and how that will affect buying a home or buying a car,” said Espinoza, a sophomore at Will Rogers High School.
Espinoza and his classmates are among the tens of thousands who are learning financial literacy thanks in part to a partnership with TTCU Federal Credit Union.
FoolProof is an online financial literacy program that is offered to teachers across the state.
TTCU provides the program free of charge to teachers. It meets the requirements for the Oklahoma Passport to Financial Literacy Act, passed in 2007, that requires students in grades 7-12 learn basic concepts for handling their finances.
TTCU partnered with FoolProof in 2011. Since then, FoolProof has been used by 359 schools, including many in Tulsa, Union and Broken Arrow public schools. There are 1,233 teachers using the curriculum, which has been taught to a total of 96,409 students.
Keli Fritz, who teaches English and college summit classes at Will Rogers, is teaching the program for the first year.
College summit is a required program at Will Rogers to prepare students for life after graduation, whether that is college, career tech or the military.
The sophomore year of college summit includes financial literacy education.
Fritz said that many of her students already have debit cards or credit cards and that this is knowledge they can use to help ensure they don’t make major mistakes in their early financial lives.
“Hopefully this will help them think twice before they go and max out a credit card,” she said. “If they are learning about it in class, then maybe they won’t go out and buy everyone’s meal and put it on a credit card.”
The topics covered in the course include: earning an income, taxes, financial service providers, managing a bank account, saving and investing, retirement planning, borrowing money, credit cards, risk management, gambling and renting versus buying.
There is also a section on fraud and identity theft.
“It’s good to learn how to spot when something is shady, and when to give out your social, and when to protect it to keep from getting your identity stolen,” Fritz said. “My identity almost got stolen one time because I wasn’t being diligent in making sure my stuff was protected. They know how to get information out of you and make it sound legit. So if they can learn that now maybe it will prevent them from getting scammed.”
TTCU has invested more than $500,000 to provide the program to teachers for free.
“We feel like that is really a great investment,” said Tim Lyons, president and CEO of TTCU. “We’re reached more than 96,000 students and you can’t beat that.”