In 2017, Wisconsin passed legislation requiring that school districts incorporate financial literacy into K–12 curriculum, ensuring that more students have access to financial education. However, advocacy efforts to promote financial education in schools began many years before this legislation was passed.
The Department of Financial Institutions created the Office of Financial Literacy (OFL) in 2000 with the goal of promoting financial literacy. The OFL was able to bring together stakeholders in policy, nonprofit, and education to establish numerous initiatives including Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Personal Financial Literacy, published by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Additionally, a National Institute of Financial and Economic Literacy was established to provide professional development for teachers through an annual summer institute series. The institute grew from partnerships with the Wisconsin Jump$tart Coalition and Edgewood College.
The OFL further promoted school-based financial education through surveys to better understand how financial education is offered in the state. According to a Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy meeting in 2015, only 25% of school districts required a personal finance course in 2010. However, by 2014 this number had grown to 64%. Wisconsin continues to take a multi-pronged approach in its support of financial education: providing teachers with professional development opportunities, holding events for Money Smart Week, and generally raising awareness of the importance of financial literacy.