I just wanted to take a minute to thank Kiplinger's Janet Bodnar for her look at what I consider to be one of the social justice struggles of my generation -- the importance of teaching underprivileged kids about money. In her column, she writes about a letter that she received from a sixth grade teacher in a low-income area who wrote that ""Sadly, most of my students believe that the only way they will ever have wealth is to win the lottery." Ms. Bodnar points out two very worth organizations that are working to level the financial literacy playing field:
Stocks in the Future: Developed by John Hopkins University, according to the website, the program "Stocks in the Future teaches underperforming middle school students about the world of financial investing through a 3-year, once-a-week curriculum, offered during the regular school day. We target chronically truant and below average performers and motivate them to succeed... With money earned by attending school regularly and improving their grades, students purchase and then track the performance of publicly traded stocks on their own personalized internet portfolios. When they graduate from high school, they receive the earned stock in their own names."
Educated Consumer Project: "The Educated Consumer Project ("ECP") provides youths in low - and moderate-income ("LMI") areas in Washington, DC with a comprehensive financial education program."
To these, I would add a third worth cause, Jumpstart.org, which is the leading advocate for financial literacy education in this country.
Think about this: The children of the wealthy learn about responsible saving, investing and spending at home. The children of the poor, and often middle-class learn nothing. I would argue that the failure of the schools to teach financial literacy has done more to perpetuate the status quo than any Washington lobbyist could ever dream of doing. All three groups mentioned here are non-profits. Consider making them part of your charitable plans. I know I will.