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Notes from the Field

Building Financial Literacy One Connection at a Time

Through engaging programing and trusted relationships, the Cleveland Fed’s Financial Education and Outreach Department encourages students to learn, grow, and make decisions that support brighter financial futures.


As a member of the Bank’s Financial Education and Outreach Department, it is my job to engage with the Bank’s communities and provide impactful programming and presentations throughout our region. Doing so helps increase awareness of the research produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and build an understanding of the Federal Reserve's role in the nation's economy. It also supports the Bank’s effort to create a more informed public—especially in underserved, majority-minority, and low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. My department maintains a digital library of classroom-ready resources for educators to provide instruction to students—from kindergarten through university. All of our resources are free for educators to use in the classroom and can be customized to best fit students’ needs. 

Connections are essential

At the heart of what I do—what my whole team does—is connecting. Through the work we do, we connect with those around us and the communities we serve. In addition to the educational resources we provide, my team builds relationships in our schools and with the students we meet. We build on the tiny sparks of curiosity, turning cautious glances into growing smiles. The connections we create come from our desire to build knowledge for making better choices.

My focus is on providing financial literacy. I strive to encourage individuals and bring forth their visions for creating a better financial future for themselves, providing a positive influence and empowering them to make smart money and career choices. My team teaches concepts that broaden knowledge through activities and programs that use real-world examples. This allows students to learn, grow, and make decisions that support brighter futures.

Connecting with students

I’m thrilled to work with and provide financial literacy, support, resources, and programming to students at the University Preparatory School at Margaret Milliones in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As its name suggests, the school, a member of Pittsburgh public schools, promotes higher education and provides its students with the educational environment necessary for success. The Cleveland Fed is committed to partnering with the school for the balance of this school year, this summer, and into the future. We are focused on building relationships that will take students through their educational journey and into their early careers. Collaborations among the Carnegie Science Center, the Hill District, Pittsburgh Promise coaches, the University of Pittsburgh, and many more are developing a web of support for these students; the Cleveland Fed is their guide and resource for financial literacy.

Last month, I presented with fellow Cleveland Fed ambassadors Ali Ersoz and Skender Cilka at SciTech Days at the Carnegie Science Center. Connecting middle school and high school students with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals, SciTech Days allow students to engage with STEM experts, explore demonstrations, and discover career options in the STEM field. During our visit, we engaged with more than 2,000 attendees. We also were panelists for Career Connections, an opportunity to speak with smaller groups of students about careers at the Fed.

My work as an education and museum outreach associate is not limited to middle school and high school students. I develop relationships with university students, too. I share information about our education and research topics, and I pass along internship and career opportunities. I also regularly work with university students, practicing mock interviews and helping them practice the soft skills necessary for success.

Connecting is rewarding

The energy I get from students is contagious. It is rewarding to connect with students—whether teaching them about using credit wisely, helping them make good budgeting decisions, or preparing them for career opportunities. Discussing the Fed—who we are, what we do, and how we affect the students, their families, and their communities—allows me to connect with students on a level that leaves room for vulnerability and builds trust.

In a classroom or lecture hall, a community center, library, or museum, teaching our content goes beyond sharing instructions and giving information. Relationship building takes time and effort, and interactions need to be engaging and genuine for them to be successful. When we offer new perspective to the students we engage with, they are better able to see the value in making good financial decisions. Providing opportunities for students to network with professionals and create personal connections is key for their professional development and skill building.

The Cleveland Fed’s Financial Education and Outreach Department provides educational opportunities to grow financial literacy and enhance job readiness to create economic success for individuals and their communities. The department serves the Bank’s communities, especially underserved communities, by connecting individuals of all ages with educational resources to support them in reaching their economic potential.

The views expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland or the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.