Steve believes strongly that it is crucial to Massachusetts's future to promote financial education and empowerment through the Treasurer's office.
The Massachusetts Asset Development Commission, co-chaired by Senator James B. Eldridge and Tina Brooks, undersecretary of Housing and Community Development, reported in June that more than 40% of all Massachusetts households were either in financial distress or one bit of bad news away from financial crisis. The commission said: "Financial education is a cornerstone [of personal financial health] because of the need to have the knowledge to analyze financial information, make wise and informed decisions, and respond to opportunities and emerging events." This need is especially critical for low- and moderate-income families.
Steve will establish an Office of Financial Education to develop Internet-based informational materials and courses in partnership with Massachusetts educational institutions. He will explore strategies such as interactive tools to help consumers assess their financial situation, opening one-to-one counseling centers, an "800" number for telephone consultation services, and special programs aimed at building small- and mid-sized businesses in economically stressed sections of the state.
He will work collaboratively with non-profit and other community institutions as well as labor unions to ensure that financial literacy tools and information reach the widest possible audience. And he will seek public-private task forces or partnerships that can expand the scope and reach of financial education and empowerment programs.
Steve believes that no Massachusetts student should graduate from high school without a basic knowledge of bank accounts, credit cards, and personal finance. While resources are limited in the current economic climate, he will work with educators to forge public-private partnerships that will develop pilot projects and create innovative teaching methods to pave the way for expanding the program across the Commonwealth.
Today's students are more likely to do their finances online or with "smart" cellphones than with paper checkbooks. Effective financial education must be rooted in 21st century technologies and must address contemporary financial concerns. Steve will use the resources and influence of the Treasurer's office to advance the state of the art for teaching financial literacy.