Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Cincinnati, OH

Librarians in Cincinnati collaborated with Extension educators from Ohio State University to bring financial literacy experiences to high school students. Programming helped teens set financial goals, understand ways to build assets, create and maintain a personal budget, use bank services, manage credit card and loan debt, and avoid financial scams. Programming helped students appreciate the correlation between education and income throughout life. All programming aligned with academic content standards for financial literacy and related subjects. The project partners sought to make financial education relevant and fun for the teen cohort. Special effort was made to engage teens from lower-income neighborhoods in Cincinnati and the surrounding county.

Key Activities: 

  • Engaged its teen advisory board to help promote the program to their peers through social media and word-of-mouth communications.
  • With Ohio State University Extension, trained teen librarians in Hamilton County on the personal finance concepts, resources, instructional strategies, and learning objectives addressed by the project.
  • Hosted 18, four-hour personal finance workshops for teens at various library locations. These interactive sessions required participants to develop a budget, use laptops to make a spreadsheet, formulate financial goals, and explore relevant websites. The sessions also included a personal finance gaming component, and addressed a variety of core topics such as credit, financial fraud, student loans, saving, and interest compounding.
  • Hosted three “Budget Bonanza” events for students timed for key moments in the school calendar. The Budget Bonanza was a simulation experience whereby students assumed the role of a 27-year-old with a family and was assigned a job and income. They visited 14 learning stations (housing, transportation, food, clothing, communication, child care, credit and debt, student loans, life and medical insurance, retirement planning, entertainment, charitable giving, savings, and unforeseen circumstances). Each station was staffed by community volunteers who helped students make spending decisions that fit within their budgets.
  • Created and distributed personal finance toolkits for teen library users and their parents.

Looking to take your library’s financial literacy efforts to the next level? Connect with ALA’s Financial Literacy Interest Group.