June Learning and Bloom announced Tuesday that the two online learning platforms are collaborating to offer students financial education in recognition of April as Financial Literacy Month.
For the month of April, Juni Learning’s money-oriented course, “Investing in the Stock Market,” is free to anyone who wishes to participate. In addition, the top three students will win $500 to start their investment journey. And Bloom offers students $5 for opening an account through its platform.
The Money-Minded course covers approximately 20 to 30 hours of content and can be taken at the student’s own pace. The course teaches students the basics of investing using a stock market simulator. At the end of the course, the three winners can apply their knowledge and buy actual shares through their own Bloom account.
“Our mission at Juni is to prepare everyone for the real world,” said Vivian Shen, co-founder and CEO of Juni Learning. ZDNet† The company’s courses are designed to give students at the end of primary education the knowledge that many schools do not offer.
Few schools offer financial literacy courses, so Juni Learning seeks to bridge that gap and give students the necessary tools to navigate the financial world. In addition to courses that students can take at their own pace, the online learning hub offers – via subscription – private courses for more complex concepts, such as long-term analysis of companies planning to go public.
“We start with, ‘Let’s talk about the basics, what is interest, what are the different ways to earn interest, how does risk play a part in that’, and then we start adding more layers like, ‘Let’s we certain companies and their financial statements,” Shen said.
The courses build on basic financial knowledge. They start with topics like income, income streams, and budgeting. Courses move on to concepts like the difference between working for yourself and working for a company and how much of your money you can spend on safe investments and riskier games.
†[Juni Learning is] trying to give kids a broader understanding of the mechanics of how money works, and an understanding of the value of different types of investments and what a company’s performance might look like,” Shen said.
As it stands, the US education system could do more by adding financial wellness topics to curricula. Very few schools offer classes that support their student’s future financial well-being. The reasons for this, Shen said, aren’t always benevolent.
Also: Everyone from Gen Z to Boomers could use more financial education: NFEC study
“There are certainly some nefarious reasons, right? If you’re a student loan provider, for example, you’re not incentivized to educate people about what they’re applying for. So there it is, and then if you’re a college or university You’re usually incentivized to try and get people in where they can, but you also keep taking out a loan and enrolling,” she said.
Financial wellness courses in schools can help students make these big decisions like choosing student loans go more smoothly. The better educated the students are, the better prepared they are for success and they can avoid unfavorable conditions that can lead to lifelong debt. But it’s easier said than done to integrate these types of courses into curricula. As it stands, it’s mostly up to the individual.
“Right now, it really feels like we’re on our own as individuals to educate ourselves, which isn’t right,” Shen said. At the district, state and federal levels, we could use better policies to get financial literacy into the classrooms. But for now, it’s mostly up to the teachers and the parents.
“At a parental level, it’s about educating themselves first and then bringing that to their children. And even with teachers; some of the teachers I’ve talked to don’t quite understand their pension systems. How long-term investing directly in the stock market is different from trusting your retirement or 401K,” Shen said.
Teaching financial literacy could very well fit into math courses, Shen said. Teachers could begin teaching concepts such as compound interest through simple examples related to their students’ interests, such as candy. The students could give the teacher a candy and get another candy in a few weeks.
“It would be a good fit for the American education system if we could get financial literacy in math courses. Algebra is pretty much all you need to invest in, so there should be more ways to apply [financial literacy in classrooms]and getting more projects like [Juni Learning and Bloom’s partnership] therein is critical. So I think it’s up to us, the grassroots, to bring it up to a certain extent [financial literacy] with community leaders to try and get it into curricula,” Shen said.
That said, financial literacy has become more discussed in recent years. There are many companies in the financial sector that are beginning to put an emphasis on supporting the financial well-being of the customer. For example, large financial service providers such as Bank of America and Visa. Even FinTechs like SoLo Funds and Robinhood have integrated financial education resources into their apps.
Also: Visa and the Council for Economic Education partner to support students’ financial literacy
“I’m really happy that in recent years people have started talking about [financial literacy] more, because it used to feel very taboo to talk about money. Now it’s great that we’re all working to bring financial literacy to more people,” Shen said.
Students, educators, and anyone interested in learning the fundamentals of investing through the Juni Learning and Blooms partnership can access the free Money-Minded course here.