Savvy Spenders: Cleveland Fed teaches kids financial literacy through fun summer programs

After more than a year without much in-person interaction and collaboration, one organization this summer is offering seven programs for students of all ages to enjoy, interact with others, and learn money-saving skills in a fun way.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, is not the first organization one might think of when considering summer activities for the kids, nor would the idea of learning financial literacy be at the top of the list.

But the Cleveland Fed this year is offering seven activities throughout the summer designed to educate young people on finance and give them a chance to work with their families and interact with fellow Cleveland-area students.

These programs are all free of charge, most of them are virtual, and cover a wide variety of topics ranging from gardening to financial coding—and all are centered around financial literacy.

The Cleveland Fed began offering summer activities last year, says Khaz Finley, Cleveland Fed manager of museum and outreach. He says last year's online activities, as well as positive emails from parents and students alike, laid the groundwork for this year’s online experience. 

“Being virtual allowed us to use our brain power and create virtual activities,” Finley says. “We got a great response, so we decided to create another thematic program this year.”

The theme of this year’s program is “Watch your Money Grow: Build your Personal Finance Skills with the Cleveland Fed.” Finley says the theme is heavily encouraging financial literacy at a young age with a specific focus on handling personal finances.

Finley says he hopes students take away much information as they can from these activities because it will benefit them throughout their lives—whether they are saving up to buy candy or hoping to put a down payment on a house.

“You need to start learning these skills at a younger age,” Finley says. “When they want to obtain things such as a car or a home, they have those skills already ingrained in their heads to know how to spend and save accordingly.”

Almost all of the activities can be done at any time through downloadable guides that are found on the Cleveland Fed’s website. The guides will be up all summer.

Activities include “Grow Your Savings,” which centers around how students can save money they earn to put toward a purchase while still putting money in the piggy banks that they can build themselves using a downloadable template, and “Savvy Spender Scavenger Hunt,” to find the best prices on tools and supplies to help get a community garden up and growing.

“Savvy Spender” then leads into “Dig It! Build Your Own Community Garden,” where students can follow a step-by-step guide on starting a community garden in their neighborhoods and grow veggies, fruits, and flowers as well as also grow stronger connections with friends and neighbors.

Although this garden activity does not directly teach financial skills, Finley says it still teaches valuable lessons in growth and collaboration. 

Additional virtual activities include logic puzzles designed for students to use the process of elimination and deductive reasoning to find the answers and coloring pages that encourage students to take a break from the numeric activities and embrace their creative side. 

There is also one live virtual activity called the “Summer Research Coding Camp” which aims to teach students about the different skills economists use in their work—such as coding statistical software to gather and analyze large data sets.

In this particular event, parents can expect their kids to learn real world skills such as data analysis and interpretation while exploring how economists use these skills in their careers.

The weeklong coding camp starts from Monday, July 12 and is open to all students, although rising high school juniors and seniors are especially encouraged to attend with registration starting Friday, July 9.

The Cleveland Fed’s website says that these activities are for students of all ages and for parents who would like to have their children learn about financial literacy. 

Finely says he hopes these events teach students much valuable information about finance but also give an outlet for families to bond this summer.

“We want to encourage the families to engage with one another,” Finley says. “Take the summer months as an opportunity to learn and grow as a family.”

The complete list of activities can be found here.

Danny Fogarty
Danny Fogarty

About the Author: Danny Fogarty

Danny Fogarty is a journalism major at The Ohio State University. As a journalist, he loves the opportunities to meet a variety of different people. He especially likes that any story can captivate the audience, no matter the scale. He has worked with his college newspaper at Ohio State, "The Lantern," and also works for 270 Gridiron sports league in central Ohio. With Freshwater, Danny hopes to meet many new people and bring life to all the amazing stories throughout Cleveland.