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United Way, Treasurer Magaziner announce new fund to support financial literacy in Rhode Island

Cortney Nicolato, President and CEO of United Way of Rhode Island joined Treasurer Magaziner and members of the General Assembly to announce the creation of a new fund, "Financially FIT Rhode Island", which will support state-wide financial literacy instruction in K-12 schools.

"When only a third of Rhode Island's high school seniors receive personal finance instruction in school, before graduation - we can be certain that many are not prepared to make some of the most important financial decisions of their lives. By investing in this education today, we can change the future for every young Rhode Islander by helping them manage their personal finances, avoid predatory products, and build stable futures for themselves and their families," said Cortney Nicolato, President and CEO of United Way of Rhode Island.

"Financially FIT Rhode Island", which is administered by United Way of Rhode Island, will award grants to education foundations, nonprofits, and school districts to support educators, with funding available for professional development opportunities and for financial literacy course material. The fund, which will be launched when legislation guaranteeing access to financial literacy education for all Rhode Island students becomes law, has received $50,000 in initial pledges from local financial services firms.

"Teaching students the skills they need to manage their personal finances responsibly leads to greater economic opportunity throughout their lives. Unfortunately, too many young people in Rhode Island are not receiving financial literacy education in school and are unprepared to make financial decisions that will affect the rest of their lives," said Treasurer Magaziner. "As we work to guarantee that all students have financial literacy education, the United Way is working to ensure that educators have the resources they need to bring financial literacy into their classrooms."

Rhode Island has the highest percentage of people living below the federal poverty line in New England, as well as the second-highest percentage of unbanked households, and lags the nation in average retirement savings. Thirty-six states guarantee students access to personal finance education in their public schools. Rhode Island does not.

Senator Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) and Representative Joseph McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) introduced legislation which, when passed, will require all public high schools to offer a class that includes personal finance beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, and would require students to demonstrate proficiency in personal finance by the 2021-2022 school year.

"Financial literacy education is one of most needed skills as our students transition into adulthood. Only one-third of Rhode Island students are being taught these important skills, putting our young people at an immediate disadvantage," said Senator Sandra Cano.

"Together, we are working to ensure that all students have a basic understanding of personal finance which will help them avoid financial pitfalls when making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives," said Representative Joseph McNamara, Chair of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare.

"This fund will serve an urgent need to support educators as they prepare to help students with basic skills in personal finance. I commend the United Way of Rhode Island for their leadership on this important issue," said Senator Hanna Gallo, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education.

The fund will be seeded with multi-year support from Fidelity Investments, HarborOne Bank, BayCoast Bank, and the CFA Society of Providence.

"At Fidelity, we believe in the benefits of learning personal financial concepts in school, and have invested our time, resources and expertise to help bring personal finance education to students and professional development to teachers in Rhode Island. Fidelity is pleased to continue our commitment to Rhode Island's students and their teachers by supporting the Financially Fit Fund and strongly encourage other concerned corporate citizens to do the same," said Rick Metters, Vice President, RI Regional Public Affairs & Government Relations at Fidelity Investments.

"HarborOne Bank recognizes how crucial it is that everyone, young people in particular, have a comprehensive financial education to be certain they use, save, invest and spend money wisely. We know financial education benefits students for a lifetime," said HarborOne Bank CEO James W. Blake. "We are proud to partner with the United Way and Treasurer Magaziner to be certain that financial education is available to all Rhode Island students."

"Education as a core pillar of what the CFA Society Providence and the CFA Institute stand for," said Al Cumplido, Program Chair of CFA Society Providence. "We are proud to work with and support the United Way and financial literacy programs that share our goal of increasing financial literacy for all Rhode Islanders."

"This is an important state-wide education initiative that will have a lasting positive impact on our future Rhode Islanders. We have always believed in the importance of education as a key economic driver and we are honored to be part of this effort," said Nicholas Christ, President and CEO of BayCoast Bank.

# # # Evan England, Director of Communications, Office of the General Treasurer (401) 222-2240 | (401) 439-2199 (mobile)

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  • Department or agency: Office of General Treasurer Seth Magaziner
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  • Release date: 06-04-2019

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