CLEVELAND — With tens of millions of Americans currently unemployed and even more left to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, surveys show more families are openly discussing what has historically been taboo: finances. To help students understand those discussions as well as develop financial literacy, Junior Achievement of Greater Cleveland is offering its wealth of resources at no charge.
The online resources, which include guides on lending, interest rates, expenses and budgeting, have all been digitized and cataloged on JA's website. The lessons are tailored for students of all ages, ranging from elementary school to high school.
JA has also created a guide for students to help them understand the coronavirus and its economic implications.
Willoughby South High School sophomore and soon-to-be junior, Alex Montgomery, has been involved in Junior Achievement since elementary school. The financial literacy education has served him well in his lawncare business.
"No matter what's going on, you just got to keep trying to better yourself each day," Montgomery said. "It's very important. I think more people should become financially literate. It helps you. Everyone needs to know how to budget and stuff like that. Eventually you're going to be on your own and you have to do it by yourself."
Joe Faulhaber, the president of Junior Achievement of Greater Cleveland, said the organization began digitizing its financial literacy programming in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which has greatly impacted the oganization that prides itself on in-person, connectivity-based programming. Intended to help parents keep their school-aged children engaged in the learning process, the wealth of resources is available at no costs.
"That grit and determination and overcoming obstacles, you could argue, is more important now than ever," Faulhaber said. "Historically, talking about money, especially talking about money as a family, isn't really something that we like to do or something we feel comfortable doing."
COVID-19 has changed that, Faulhaber said. A recent JA survey of 1,000 families found that a vast majority of those families have been openly discussing finances.
"I don't think a lot of parents like to talk to their kids about money and let that guard down. I think it's important for them to be as authentic with their kids as possible, help them understand that everything isn't perfect," said Al DiFranco, the vice president for development and programs at Junior Achievement of Greater Cleveland. "If something like this happens 15-20 years from now, their kids understand how they got through it and they could help their kids through it."
Junior Achievement of Greater Cleveland is also involved in 75% of all CMSD schools and more than half of the students the organization serves are low to moderate income, DiFranco said.
"The key is that we want to be able to encourage them, and educate them on what it means to be ready for the world of work and to understand what money actually is," DiFranco said.