By Briahnna Brown
One in five students lack basic financial literacy, according to leading academic research, and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at the George Washington University School of Business hopes to change that with Fast Lane.
After researching barriers that prevent financial education from being incorporated into school curriculum, Hallie Davis, Fast Lane project lead and a GFLEC associate, said that GFLEC developed the Fast Lane website with curated and newly-created resources to walk users through ways to get involved in financial education early on.
"We want to really start building more of a movement," Ms. Davis said. “We want to see this as a way to break down barriers and see more financial education in schools."
The Fast Lane project was funded by PwC US, one of the largest professional services firm in the US, whose partnership was instrumental in getting this initiative off the ground.
“Many factors contribute to low levels of financial literacy—even well-educated adults are oftentimes not money-savvy, said Shannon Schuyler, chief purpose officer at PwC. “But there is a gap when it comes to youth, particularly among those from diverse communities. Few students are exposed to concepts like personal finance during school lessons, as only about 12 percent of K-12 teachers report including these topics in class.
“Resources like Fast Lane are crucial to help close the gap in financial education and equip schools to teach their students to become better financial decision-makers.”
The resources offered through Fast Lane are open to everyone, but are tailored to high schools because available research allowed GFLEC to develop effective strategies for those grade levels. Andrea Hasler, assistant research professor in financial literacy, said that she hopes Fast Lane will lead to students coming into college better prepared to fund their education and live on their own because they will be financially healthier.
"In high school, kids make lifelong decisions with student loans and going to college, so it's really important to start as early as possible,” Dr. Hasler said. “In high school we see, from our research, that kids have money and they start to make financial decisions at that time."
The site is tailored to six audiences involved in financial education: teachers, parents and guardians, students, school administrators, policy makers and community members. After watching an introductory video, users will be offered resources tailored to who they are based on what they want to do.
Resources available on Fast Lane will teach users why financial education matters and offer evidence-based strategies and curricula to educate high school students on finances. For those looking to advocate for financial literacy, Fast Lane offers tools and worksheets along with external resources on how to write a letter to policymakers and how to build a media campaign. Users also can connect with a community that is invested in improving financial education in high schools.
"This really puts GFLEC in the forefront of efforts to provide effective financial education,” Ms. Davis said. “The center has been a leader in financial research, and now, as we're moving to the solutions, Fast Lane makes us a leader in turning research into these practical solutions."