Invest in What’s Next


There are many possibilities for students’ life after high school and lots of questions to consider along the way.  “What path is right for me?” “What do I stand to gain?” “What are my funding options for school?”

We have been developing Invest in What’s Next (IIWN), an interactive, online mini-course with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Through three lessons, students will explore their options, budget for their future, and build a plan that’s right for them.

We are happy to announce that lesson 1 has been launched and is ready for you to assign to your students!  After completing lesson 1, students will be able to:

  • determine what jobs best fit their personal interests and the education required for those jobs
  • estimate what they want their future lifestyle to be and the income they may need to earn to support that lifestyle
  • identify the benefits of education after high school
  • assess the degree levels and school options for education after high school
  • research education options that meet their goals
  • analyze charts and data in a variety of formats

Continue reading

Teacher Spotlight: Amy Evers

TeacherSpotlightEvers4Our Spotlight series continues this week, where we talk with teachers who are making a difference in the field of economic education.

In today’s installment, we’re talking with Amy Evers, who teaches AP U.S. government, AP economics (macro and micro), US government honors, and “We are the People” at Clark High School in Las Vegas, NV.

Here is what she had to say:

How long have you been teaching economics?  What do you love most about it?

This is my sixth year teaching economics. Initially when I was told I would teach the class I not excited at all! I struggled with economics in college and was concerned that I would only confuse students since I was quite confused as well. However, I saw it as a challenge that I had to overcome.

I spent the summer teaching myself economics and went to an AP Economics Summer Institute for additional help. The first year was difficult at times but I had a very understanding group of students and things gradually got easier.

Continue reading

Personal finance blog resources

Last week, we suggested a few economics blogs as resources.  This week, we’re turning our focus to blogs that address topics related to personal finance and financial literacy.

These blogs were all winners of the Plutus Awards at the 5th Annual FinCon Expo, a peer conference for the financial media community.

Best New Personal Finance Blog: Listen, Money Matters!

2014-10-1-Listen-money-mattersAndrew Fiebert and Matt Giovanisci hail from New England, and they have self-proclaimed themselves a personal finance nerd and a reformed debt addict, respectively. Together, they explore money issues and share their research and learning with the purpose of helping others along the same path towards financial freedom and early retirement. They also maintain a podcast.

Continue reading

Girl Scouts visit Phoenix Processing Center

2014.07.30Phoenix-GirlScouts-tour-launch2Just a quick post today to share a photo of Troop 966 (Peoria, AZ) from the Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, along with representatives of our Fed outreach team.  These young women visited the SF Fed Phoenix Processing Center over the summer and got hands-on practice with personal finance by calculating income and creating a budget, along with learning how to save towards financial goals.

The Girl Scouts also viewed our cash operations and saw the coin and cash supply for the state of Arizona, while learning about the life cycle of cash in the U.S. A treasure hunt for piggy bank souvenirs completed their visit.

If you know an Arizona Girl Scout troop that would like to participate in our Phoenix office’s Girl Scout VIP Pass program, see the flyer below for more information.

Continue reading

Spreading our wings beyond the bald eagle: wildlife on United States currency

This post is by guest writer Andrea Abrams, who is a Senior Coordinator with the SF Fed’s Economic Education department.  Andrea leads a team of 38 staff outreach volunteers in our Los Angeles and Phoenix Branches who provide tours and personal finance workshops.  Read her full bio here.

Most students know that the bald eagle features prominently on the United States cash in their wallet. When it comes to frogs, reindeer, and bison, however, students may be in for a surprise.

Wildlife meets economics in our nation’s cash past.

Fighting frogs

Some of the earliest American notes were issued by private banks, and often contained imagery that was meaningful to the local community.  For example, the currency of Windham Bank, which was located in eastern Connecticut, featured a unique symbol that originated in local folklore.

A legend holds that one night in 1754, two local men were terrified by ferocious sounds of battle drawing near. Eager to protect their fellow residents, the two rushed home to gather reinforcements for what was presumed to be an enemy attack in association with the French and Indian War. No attackers were found, but in the morning the area was filled with thousands of bullfrogs who had apparently done battle the night before, possibly over the small amount of water in a nearby pond. This episode was immortalized in poetry and song…and on the local currency when Windham Bank issued a $5 private banknote depicting two frogs in combat.

2014.08.20 Spreading our wings beyond the bald eagle 1

Continue reading

Back to School with Bite-Sized Economics

With the summer winding down we’ve turned to getting ready for the new school year, and you probably are, too.  To help get the ball rolling with your economics classes, we’ve compiled a short list of “Bite-Sized Economics” activities and discussions that can be easily integrated into the classroom.  They come from our colleagues at the Kansas City Fed (see more of their educational resources here).


Concept to teach:  Entrepreneur
One who takes a risk by producing a product or starting a new business

Bite-sized ideas:

  1. As entrepreneurs invent new products, they often make former products obsolete, or out of date and no longer used. An example of this would be the typewriter, which is now rare because of computer word processing. This concept is called “creative destruction.” Ask students to brainstorm and discuss other examples of creative destruction due to new inventions.
  2. After discussing entrepreneurship, ask students to interview an entrepreneur in their community. Interview questions could include: describing their business; explaining how they financed their venture; discussing any challenges in their business; and describing a typical work day. Share completed interviews with the class. (via)

Continue reading

How Do You Inspire Others to Become an Entrepreneur?

Photo credit: Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College

Photo credit: Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College

Riley Ennis, 20, is the CEO of a biotechnology startup, Immudicon LLC.  In high school, Riley worked for three years on a cancer vaccine that teaches the immune cells of the body to recognize and remove tumors. Immudicon is focused on further research and licensing the cancer vaccine platform technology.  Riley is currently a junior at Dartmouth College, where he is double majoring in economics and biomedical engineering.

We asked Riley what advice he would give to other young people who have aspirations in business.

Here’s what he said.

Continue reading

5 Things You May Not Know About Money

Money.  We use it daily, whether electronically or as cash (the demise of which is greatly exaggerated).  We are all are familiar with it in its current form.  But how much do you know about the history of money?  Use these five surprising facts to help history come alive for your students through currency.

1.  Before the Civil War, paper money could be issued by nearly anyone

Private Bank Note, Drover’s Bank, Salt Lake City, Utah, $3, 1856

Private Bank Note, Drover’s Bank, Salt Lake City, Utah, $3, 1856

Between 1837 and 1866, a period now often called the “Free Banking Era,” lax federal and state banking laws permitted virtually anyone to open a bank and issue currency. Paper money was issued by states, cities, counties, private banks, railroads, stores, and churches.  In the 1860s, an estimated 8,000 different state banks were circulating bank notes in denominations from ½ cent to $20,000!

These notes came in a variety of sizes, colors, and designs, and that combined with an environment of uneven regulations from area to area is widely considered to have increased the public’s appetite for centralized banking regulation.

As the American population moved Westward, some of the issuing institutions earned the dubious nickname “wildcat banks,” in reference to their remote locations, more accessible to wildcats than people.  The Free Banking Era ended with the passing of the National Bank Act of 1863.

Continue reading

Teaching About Income Inequality – Three Charts and Two Tips

If you’re looking for a quick start into the issue of income inequality, our new DataPost series might just do the trick. The series uses a fairly simple comparison to define income inequality and chart that comparison over time. The full series includes: U.S. Household Incomes: A Snapshot, Median Household Incomes: Life in the Middle, and Income Inequality: Measuring the Gap.

To introduce the idea of income equality to your students, consider using the following three charts.

1.     Income Distribution

The first place to start the discussion is by taking a look at the distribution of U.S. household incomes. The chart below gives the percentage of U.S. households in each income category. At the lowest end of the distribution, 3.4% of American households earned less than $5,000 in 2012. At the highest end of the distribution, 4.5% of American households earned $200,000 or more in 2012.

There are some interesting things to note about the shape of this distribution.  First, there are more households in the lower income categories than you might expect.  In a normal distribution – think the bell shaped curve – values tend to pile up in the middle.  Here, though, there are greater concentrations at the low end of the distribution.

Continue reading