working group

NEFE 2019 and Beyond: Leading the Field, Redefining Financial Education

Building on Our Momentum and Reputation

NEFE has provided financial education for more than 30 years and we are proud to continue that legacy. We are one of the first organizations to wholly dedicate its efforts on delivering financial education to all Americans, through best practices in research, programs and evaluation.

  • We are nonprofit, nonpartisan, independently funded.
  • All of our offerings are free and noncommercial.
  • We place special emphasis on supporting research and empowering intermediaries who reach youth, young adults and underserved audiences.

We partner with:

  • Teachers, social service providers, counselors and other intermediaries
  • Nonprofits and charitable organizations
  • Researchers—the best thinkers in financial education

Financial education is a powerful force for positive change. It builds knowledge, boosts confidence and is the cornerstone of better decision making. Our purpose is, and always has been, providing high-quality education enabling all Americans to make more informed decisions that can help them live a financially secure life. While that theory will always drive our work, we’re shifting our focus to clarify our message, optimize our impact and better apply that theory.

Many individuals and organizations are focused on improving financial well-being in America. Some activities in this space are working, but regretfully many are not. Many in fact focus on specific corners of the problem, creating frequent duplication and subsequent vulnerability to criticism that their efforts are failing. Our community must be transparent and acknowledge that education doesn’t solve everything. In other words, no one should depict education as a silver bullet that creates financial well-being. Essentially, education must go hand-in-hand with efficient, consumer-friendly policy.

We also must recognize certain challenges and barriers, some that simply cannot be remedied by education alone:

  • Socioeconomic disparities
  • Gender pay inequality
  • Racial wealth gap
  • Predatory financial practices

Additionally, there are numerous factors outside one’s control that influence ability to apply—or not apply—knowledge to specific situations:

  • Policy, regulation and consumer protections
  • Economic conditions
  • Availability of appropriate financial services

Now, we will sharpen our focus. Fluid, evolutionary thought drives the direction of NEFE, deliberately in motion towards better solutions for researchers, educators, practitioners and policymakers. We are placing a higher focus on enhancing the quality of education through the support of intermediaries, and bolstering a thoughtful, actionable research agenda. NEFE will move from a collection of respected programs and initiatives that tacitly informs thoughtful leadership to a strategic, outcomes-focused entity that more boldly demonstrates precedent through evidence.

By leading and encouraging best practices and knowledge sharing, we’re committed to improving the effectiveness of financial education and raising awareness of the factors which affect well-being. We are excited to be a part of the momentum happening in the U.S. as more focus is being paid toward financial well-being. We are eager for our growth, renewed focus, continued support for the field, and driving toward a greater impact. We recognize our influence and will have greater focus on what we do:

  • Supporting Research: We will further today’s research for tomorrow’s agenda through strategic funding and support in a manner that creates spaces for action.
  • Designing Effective Program Resources: We will promote financial capability through intentional program design and evaluation that focuses on engaging curricula and demonstrated learning.
  • Setting the Example: We don’t just say, we do. We will influence by supporting intermediaries and empowering external partners. We will lead the nation by maximizing networks at all levels in a manner that raises the bar for the field.

We are enhancing our support of the field through research. Our research agenda will become more robust, more thoughtful, and we will feed the pipeline of new research in financial capability. We will sponsor dialogue about what is known and what needs to be known, and provide clarity where vagueness, uncertainty and murkiness exist.

NEFE will share its findings broadly, encouraging the field to adopt best practices proven through research and evaluation. This will be a dynamic journey. We will strive to provide the field with what it needs now, as well as with what it doesn’t yet know it needs.

Education and high-quality information have been a centerpiece activity of NEFE for more than 30 years and these efforts are not going away. In fact, we are streamlining efforts to focus on improving the quality of the learning materials that we provide. Our signature offerings—the High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP), CashCourse and Smart About Money—will live on in some form, and will become more interactive, engaging and meaningful to better align with the changing needs of Americans and how they consume information and education. We will, internally and within the field, stress what education does and does not do, and help intermediaries create programs that have measurable impact.

We will aggressively work to help our field understand the financial education ecosystem and how all factors must play a part in leading to financial capability. We will guide teachers, instructors, counselors and other intermediaries to follow the five pillars of effective financial education (well-trained educators, vetted materials, timely instruction, relevant subject matter and evidence of impact), and guide them toward measuring and achieving outcome-based results.

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