NTAE: "Teaching Money Matters" Feature Story

The Financial Literacy Team at West Virginia University teaches children and adults basic financial concepts and risks, so that they make the most informed decisions about how to save, invest, and manage debt. This publication documents how the team worked with its NTAE advisors to increase the flexibility of the curriculum and equip Extension educators to teach the material in a way that meets the unique needs of individual communities. The publication is excerpted from the New Technologies for Ag Extension 2022-2023 Yearbook, which documents dozens of projects funded through the New Technologies for Ag Extension (NTAE) program. NTAE is a cooperative agreement between USDA NIFA, Oklahoma State University, and the Extension Foundation. The goal of the New Technologies for Ag Extension (NTAE) grant is to incubate, accelerate, and expand promising work that will increase the impact of the Cooperative Extension System (CES) in the communities it serves, and provide models that can be adopted or adapted by Extension teams across the nation.

Grant projects improve human, environmental, and community health.

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Welcome. “Teaching Money Matters” is a publication of the New Technologies for Ag Extension (NTAE) program. This publication celebrates the accomplish- ments of a team of Extension professionals from West Virginia University that received funding for this project in 2022-2023. NTAE is a grant program generously supported by the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and administered through a partnership between Oklahoma State University and the Extension Foundation (EXF). The primary objective of NTAE is to provide financial assistance to competitively selected Extension programs that align with the strategic goal and priority program areas of the USDA and the Extension Com- mittee on Organization and Policy (ECOP). Through this support, NTAE helps teams catalyze, accelerate, and expand their work in their respective fields. Since its inception in 2019, the NTAE program has successfully funded and supported a total of 72 projects and leaders. This includes collaborations with all Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) and ECOP Program Action Teams (PATs). Selected programs receive support for a period of one year. The project leader and their team are provided with invaluable mentoring from a team of catalysts, key infor- mants, and coaches from the EXF. This customized and innovative support model assists teams in exploring new possibilities, enhancing the intended impact of their projects, and sharing their work with a national audience. Additionally, each team receives additional resources and support to create materials and experiences that speed the development of their projects and bring about desired changes. The project showcased in this publication reflects the diversity and breadth of Extension disciplinary work and programming. In this publication, you will gain deeper insights into this exciting project, including the lessons learned, the project’s significance for Extension in a broader context, and what lies ahead for the team.

4 WAYS TO USE THIS PUBLICATION. 1. BE INSPIRED . Follow our model to reach underserved audiences in your community.

PROJECT TEAM

PUBLICATIONS

Lauren Weatherford Associate Professor/Extension Agent, West Virginia University Daisy Bailey Associate Professor/Extension Agent, West Virginia University Hannah Fincham Associate Professor/Extension Agent, West Virginia University Jennifer Friend Extension Instructor/Extension Agent, West Virginia University Margaret Miltenberger Associate Professor/Extension Agent, West Virginia University Amanda Johnson Associate Professor/Extension Agent, West Virginia University Elizabeth Metheny Assistant Professor/Extension Agent, West Virginia University Allison Tomlinson Extension Instructor/Extension Agent, West Virginia University Adeola Ogunade Evaluation and Communication Specialist, West Virginia University Lesley Sears Associate Professor/Extension Agent, West Virginia University Amy Pridemore Director, Center for Financial Literacy and Education, West Virginia University

Editorial Staff Julie Halverson Dr. Rose Hayden-Smith Heather Martin Design & Production Dr. Rose Hayden-Smith Ellen P. Krugel Heather Martin

© Extension Foundation Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommer- cial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Published by Extension Foundation. Citations for this publication may be made using the following: Kansas City: Extension Foundation (2022). Teaching Money Matters (1st ed). ISBN: 978-1-955687-42-3. This work, ISBN 978-1-955687-42-3, is supported by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020- 41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

2. ADVOCATE. Show this publication to your

Extension Director and talk about how to use it to enhance your Extension’s public outreach. 3. SHARE. Share this publication with potential community partners who could help you create new programming. 4. GIVE FEEDBACK. Did this publication inform your Extension work? Share what you’ve

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Several West Virginia University Extension faculty and educators have completed training to teach WVU’s Financial Literacy program, and more than half (58%) said they plan to offer the content to middle and high school students. Training Teachers

25 Educators attended core competency seminars in financial literacy.

33 Educators attended WVU Financial Literacy content and eval tool overview sessions.

38 Educators are trained to teach “Savings & Investing,”

Extension program works with educators to deliver customized financial literacy classes.

“Basic Finance,” “Debit & Credit.”

Why did you apply for an NTAE grant this year?

financial literacy education, thus improving financial literacy rates throughout the state. Having more effective marketing materials will help us reach our goal.

Financial literacy is essential for individuals and households to achieve goals such as buying a car or a home, saving for retirement, and provid- ing for children’s education. It’s also vital for communities. When individuals and households are financially literate, they are more likely to contribute to their communities. The result? Stronger, more resilient cities and towns. Formed in 2021, the Financial Literacy Team at West Vir- ginia University teaches children and adults basic financial concepts and risks, so that they make the most informed de- cisions about how to save, invest, and manage debt. “Our goal is to help people build healthy financial skills that will last a lifetime,” says Laura Weatherford, associate professor and Extension agent at West Virginia University (WVU) and leader of the financial literacy team. The team won a 2022-2023 New Technologies for Ag Ex- tension grant to help make financial literacy education more accessible to more people in West Virginia. In this Q&A,

Project Goals • Improve financial literacy rates in West Virginia. • Expand WVU’s financial literacy education program statewide. • Build WVU Extension’s reputation as a leading source for financial literacy education.

Our team has accomplished a lot in a short period of time as county agents, but we felt we could move the project to a higher level with the technical assistance and support offered through the NTAE grant. Through working with the Extension Foundation’s Key Infor- mants in marketing and communications, we identified gaps in how we communicate and market our program. We’ve been developing a marketing plan and project publications using that information. We’re working on creating an introduction letter to schools, considering how to improve our website and increase traffic, and developing materials to present to prospective partners and sponsors. The Extension Foundation’s evaluation specialist also helped us by affirming that we were on the right track in our work.

Do you have data that show the effectiveness of your modules?

Yes! Among the participants in the “FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) & Financial Aid” module, 58% of participants surveyed said they were motivated to complete FAFSA forms and apply for financial aid; 73% said they intended to apply for financial aid to attend college. What lessons have you learned as you’ve developed your program? Through training and program implementation, we’ve learned that we need to provide instructors with more ed- ucation about how to use the evaluation tool. We’ve used a collaborative and interactive approach to review and update our evaluation tools to meet users’ needs. We are ➤

Weatherford talks about howshe and her team worked with NTAE advisors to increase the flexibility of the curriculum and equip Extension educators to teach the material in a way that meets the unique needs of individual communities.

Ultimately, our goal is to reach more West Virginians with

trying to ensure all program implementation is done cor- rectly and using the same evaluation tool to collect the best possible data and maintain program fidelity. Extension educators often face the challenge of delivering programming in dynamic environments. Although pre-de- fined series of lessons are effective in producing measurable outcomes, educators may also need to provide education in settings that don’t meet the standard delivery requirements. To address this, our team developed a statewide financial literacy education program—guided by best practices in the U.S. National Strategy for Financial Literacy (2020)—with a flexible process that allows educators to customize the program and evaluation tools to fit their unique circumstanc- es without compromising program outcome data.

Our methods enable educators to deliver program content in various settings, including smaller programs, while still measuring outcomes. We’ve incorporated cross-discipline perspectives in pro- gram design and collaboration, including all program units within WVU Extension. Because financial literacy affects everyone, having multiple disciplines represented has pro- vided valuable insight and information. This is an effective model that should be incorporated into future programming. Our marketing plan also emphasizes our cross-disciplinary approach. By showcasing the Financial Literacy Education team’s cross-university partnerships and collaborations with state institutions, we highlight the diversity of Extension’s programs and the strength of our statewide network. This helps the public understand that WVU Extension is working beyond our agricultural roots. ■

Lauren Weatherford, associate professor and Extension agent at West Virginia University, has a powerful story about the impact that financial literacy class on basic finance had on one adult participant. “This participant seemed to pay particularly close attention and asked lots of questions. Months later this student told me that she had taken the information she learned in the pro- gram, sat down with her husband, and creat- ed a budget. Things were very tight. The only place she could find to cut was to stop smok- ing, so she did. Two months later her husband also quit smoking. This freed up just enough money for the two of them to start saving. PROGRAM IMPACT

This approach has implications for collective outcome mea- surement, which is often a gap in Extension organizations.

“Of all possible topics, 2023—as a year of runaway inflation—cried for financial management education. The WVU team created a multi-dimensional curriculum and flexible approach to match multiple learner needs.”

While there are other factors that contributed to the changes in their lives, in the time since our program they moved into better housing and she started attending college. She told me they got on track to provide a better quality of life for their family. Their understanding of how to manage their finances was a big piece of that.”

—Dr. Scott Reed and Dr. Jimmy Henning, NTAE Catalysts

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