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In honor of Financial Literacy Month, DPSCD Stresses the Importance of Good Financial Health Through Classes and Programming

Financial Literacy Month is observed annually in April to increase financial literacy, especially among students across the country. Though this is an annual occurrence, Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) is working year-round to ensure that middle and high school students learn the proper skills to be financially successful in the future. This is due in part to recent legislation that passed last year. 

In June 2022, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 5190, a bill that requires students to take a half-credit financial literacy course, beginning with students who are entering eighth grade in 2023. While financial literacy units are currently covered in economics and civics classes throughout the district with some schools offering specific courses on this subject, this bill has accelerated our efforts to build out comprehensive financial literacy courses for all of our students. 

DPSCD Curriculum Leader Gregory Evans is working to provide staff with a financial literacy curriculum through a Next Gen Personal Finance Grant. 

“This is DPSCD’s first year in the grant, but other school districts throughout the country have had great success in reaching out to their teachers, getting teachers more excited about teaching personal finance. It also spurs professional development among teachers,” said Evans. “We have a summer financial literacy camp in August that supports teachers with professional development on financial literacy, which promotes more activities in the classroom.” 

Preparing for Financial Literacy Month, Evans created a calendar with topics, videos and articles associated with each day. Each week of the month also has a certain focus. This includes budgeting, investing, credit and savings. A follow-up question is included that spurs conversation with students about how to maintain good financial standing. 

The questions of the day are primarily geared towards high school, but Evans said that they can be used in middle school as well. An example question is, “What percent of lottery winners go bankrupt.?” Another was, “What is the cost to repair an iPhone screen?” From there, students discuss what financial practices should be put in place to solve the problem. 

“Since I have been in personal finance [class], I have learned how to plan for college, use a credit card responsibly and how to make and stick to a budget,” said Keyon Walk, an 11th-grader at CMA. “In my opinion, all of these are important skills to have in life long after high school.” 

Scott Conwell, a civics and economics teacher at Communication and Media Arts (CMA) High School, said that through the programming that DPSCD has put together, his class was introduced to Copper Banking, an app that teaches teens how to make smart financial decisions by developing patterned behaviors in a supervised app. In addition, CMA continues to put personal finance in its yearly lesson plans. 

“CMA has year-round offerings for a personal finance class, and I use the Next Generation Personal Finance; Everfi online resources as well as the Banzai online platform,” said Conwell. “These three resources enable my students to not only learn but simulate and apply the information we discuss in class.” 

In addition to the curriculum, Conwell has stressed to his students the importance of applying what they learn in the classroom to their everyday lives. 

“I tell the students all the time how much I wish I had this class in high school,” said Conwell, who teaches civics and economics at CMA. “Most of the financial mistakes I have made were when I was younger and just starting my financial journey. These mistakes are not easy to recover from and I want to instill good personal finance skills in my students.” 

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