On Tuesday, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a field hearing at the University of Kansas entitled “Empowering Consumers: Can Financial Literacy Education Prevent Another Financial Crisis.” Testifying before the Committee were:

Panel One:

  • Dennis McKinney, Treasurer, State of Kansas
  • Sandy Praeger, Commissioner, Kansas Insurance Department
  • John P. Smith, Administrator, Kansas Department of Credit Unions
  • Marc S. Wilson, Securities Commissioner, State of Kansas
  • Kevin Glendening, Deputy Commissioner, Consumer and Mortgage Lending Division, Office of the State Bank Commissioner, State of Kansas

Panel Two:

  • Taylor Petty, Master's in Accounting Student, University of Kansas
  • Kathryn Nemeth Tuttle, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success, University of Kansas
  • Gayle Voyles, Director, University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Center for Economic Education
  • Shawn P. Mitchell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Community Bankers Association of Kansas
  • Chris Wolgamott, Community Development Liaison, Meritrust Credit Union

The panelists included state officials, educators and a recent college graduate, and the testimony focused on various educational programs that have been implemented to address financial literacy. Mr. Wilson, the Kansas Securities Commissioner, explained that Kansas has created an investor education fund administered by the Kansas Securities Commission (KSC). Any penalties assessed by the KSC are deposited into the fund, and the KSC uses the investor education fund to make presentations to community organizations, or to award grants to other institutions engaged in financial literacy training.

A number of other financial literacy programs target a variety of age ranges and social classes, including:

  • Student Money Management Services, a new outreach program for students at the University of Kansas;
  • Money management programs such as Save@School, a money management program for children that is designed to make students aware of the benefits of saving and encourage good habits relating to saving and spending;
  • A one-day workshop called Money$mart Financial Management created specifically for middle school students;
  • The ABCs of Credit Card Finance, a program aimed at educating high school seniors and young adults entering college.
  • The Jump$tart Coalition, a national program that encourages public and private entities to come together with the purpose of promoting and teaching financial education.

The panelists also discussed various non-profit groups and other entities that can serve as resources for financial information for Kansas residents.

Although many of the panelists noted the poor current state of financial literacy in the United States and around the world, the tone of the hearing was generally optimistic. As Mr. Wolgamott stated, “with such a large network of national financial literacy providers, innovative channels are continually being created to deliver quality curriculum to those in need. A consistent focus on programs involving policy makers, educators and financial institutions will only strengthen what is currently being provided by financial institutions and social organizations.”