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Zions Bank Celebrates 10 Years of Financial Literacy in Utah Classrooms

CEO Scott Anderson marks the occasion by delivering birthday cake to Corner Canyon High School students.

Kallee Feuz Nov 26, 2018

Utah’s General Financial Literacy Course — a requirement for high school graduation — turned 10 this year, and new state data show there are plenty of reasons to celebrate the milestone.

Zions Bank marked the occasion by delivering a birthday cakes to classrooms around the state, including to Corner Canyon High School students in Danielle Dahl’s financial literacy class. Dahl was among the first group of students to take the required course a decade ago, during the 2007-08 school year, before becoming a teacher herself.

"As a nation, we often talk about the state of Americans’ finances in terms of negative news and the many ways people are falling short,” Anderson said.  “It’s a pleasure to recognize these students and the progress we are making in Utah by celebrating this 10-year milestone in financial literacy.”

While tackling money-related topics isn't always a piece of cake, the benefits are well documented; financial literacy is linked to greater personal wealth and economic stability. 

box of cupcakes with green and blue frosting
Zions Bankers are visiting schools around the state this month to celebrate 10 years of financial literacy education (with cake!) in Utah classrooms.

Utah First to Mandate High School Course

An October 2018 report from the Office of the State Auditor revealed that Utah high school graduates who have taken the General Financial Literacy course have better personal financial knowledge and make smarter financial choices than those who have not. Utahns who graduated high school after 2008, when financial education became a requirement, also fared better on the personal finance survey than peers in neighboring states.

The half-credit General Financial Literacy course, designed for junior and seniors, covers topics like saving and spending, budgeting and investment strategies. Each year, more than 40,000 students attend this class and learn money skills they will use as adults.

group of high school students in front of blackboard
Emery High School students in Shanae Butler’s financial literacy class celebrated with cupcakes and an extra serving of financial wisdom delivered by Zions Bank Castle Dale branch manager Stacey Conover.

In 2008 — in the midst of a global financial crisis, when the need for financial literacy became painfully apparent — Utah became the first state to mandate a financial literacy course for high school graduation, a result of Senate Bill 154, which was signed into law in 2003.

A decade later, Utah is the highest-ranked state in the nation for teaching financial literacy and the only state to receive an “A+” grade on Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy 2017 Financial Report Card.

Teens and Money

While Americans in general struggle to save — 55 percent of Utahns and 57 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account, according to a 2017 GOBankingRates survey — U.S. teens exhibit some promising financial behaviors. A 2017 TD Ameritrade report found that more than half of teens (56 percent) have started saving money and more than 40 percent of teens (43 percent) follow a budget.

In addition to the financial education students receive in the classroom, parents can reinforce money lessons at home by taking these simple steps:

  • Look over your child’s paystub and help them understand taxes and withholdings, and gross pay verses take-home pay.
  • If your teen isn’t currently employed, find ways for them to take part in family budgeting and financial decisions.  
  • Encourage your teen to open a bank account and set aside some savings each month. 
  • Model healthy financial behavior. Studies show that kids tend to mimic their parents’ spending and savings habits, for better or for worse.

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