2016 Governor’s Financial Literacy Award: Organization
The Financial Life Skills Program (also known as Badger$ense) in the School of Human Ecology was one of 15 individuals, businesses, and organizations selected by the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy for the 2016 Governor’s Financial Literacy Award. Criteria considered during the screening process included innovative implementation, demonstrated measurable results, collaboration with partners, and whether the effort was focused on needs-based groups.
“These individuals and organizations have a significant impact on citizens of all ages across the state by helping to enhance their personal financial knowledge and skills,” Governor Walker said. “By developing their financial capabilities, our citizens become more savvy consumers, improve their quality of life, and, in the process, contribute to strengthening our economy.”
Financial capabilities is a critical issue facing college students today. “This innovative course is designed to provide UW-Madison students with practical life skills, knowledge and experiential learning they will need to be successful after graduation,” said Soyeon Shim, Dean of the School of Human Ecology.
Nomination summary outlines the demand and impact of the program, led by Director Linda Lepe:
The program provides a clear and consistent message to the campus as a whole and provides financial wellness resources to all students, staff, and faculty. The course is led in part by an instructor from the financial industry (often times alums of the program themselves). Each weekly topic begins with relevant articles, video, and/or self-assessments prior to an in person classroom setting to engage students and force them to think about a financial issue in a manner they might not have in the past. The program believes the mini-lectures and reading material are a key component in route to overall financial wellness, but it is the activities and group discussions facilitated by peer educators that plays the biggest role of all.
The curriculum is regularly updated and “tweaked” as the needs and requests of students change through feedback from the students, peer educators, and instructors. Enrollment in the program has grown from nearly 200 last spring to over 300 during this fall term. The high demand for the financial knowledge provided by the Financial Life Skills course has allowed the program to create availability for even more students, and the program will now work with 500+ students per semester beginning in the spring of 2017.
The length of the course allows for actual behavioral change and provides students with an opportunity to create habits and plan ahead. The goal is to demystify financial jargon and lingo and provide guidance from the peer educators. This is demonstrated in students’ increased knowledge and understanding through the quizzes that focus on financial terms and concepts discussed in the variety of material.
The recipients were honored at a ceremony at the Capitol in February.
The course launched in 2014 with generous seed funding from the UW Credit Union and the Chancellor’s Office, and works in partnership with the UW-Madison Office of Financial Aid.