Towson group ensures that students know how to balance a checkbook, apply for school loans, etc.

Local philanthropic group the Maryland Council on Economic Education (MCEE) was awarded a 2018 Lighting the Way Award and $75,000 grant by the SunTrust Foundation on Oct. 18. The nonprofit organization was recognized for its meaningful and innovative programs that help people gain financial confidence and better their circumstances.

“Maryland Council on Economic Education is improving the lives of many people across Maryland, and we applaud their mission, long-term service and the impact they’re making where it’s most needed,” said SunTrust Foundation President Stan Little.

Rooted in Towson for 60 years, and on Towson University’s campus for the past 57 years, MCEE’s mission is to ensure that Maryland’s schoolchildren leave high school equipped with the economic and financial literacy knowledge and decision-making skills they will need to make informed, rational choices as consumers, workers, citizens, savers, investors and participants in the global economy.

To combat economic illiteracy, MCEE works to ensure that students have basic skills such as managing a bank account and knowing the differences between credit cards and debit cards, as well as know-how for tackling larger decisions like applying for student loans, buying cars and insurance, applying for home loans, investing and saving for retirement. Teaching youth about the significance of their economic decision-making creates a ripple effect on the economy for years to come.

MCEE runs a variety of financial literacy programs in schools that seek partnerships with them. Many of the schools are in locations that serve low-income populations. The organization’s annual “Personal Finance Challenge” recently brought together 33 teams of high school students from across Maryland; its “Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” poster contest gathered entries form nearly 1,500 students from 41 Maryland elementary and middle schools; and the “Stock Market Game” that it has brought to Maryland classrooms for more than 30 years is expected to see participation from nearly 3,500 teams this year, giving 15,000 Maryland schoolchildren a better understanding of saving and investing. The Stock Market Game is now also linked to the InvestWrite essay component, which helps students build a bridge between their classroom learning and the real world.

MCEE also offers professional development opportunities for educators, including a Financial Education Summit for Teachers. Investing in teachers is an investment in everyone! There is a strong demand for teacher training in this arena, and many times teachers will spend their own personal time and money to attend workshops on teaching personal finance because they recognize that quality instruction can increase their students’ likelihood attending of college, future earnings and more.

“We believe that today’s students are the future of the state of Maryland, so equipping them with proper economic knowledge and decision-making skills while they’re in school is essential for their successful futures,” said Mary Ann Hewitt, MCEE executive director. “We thank the SunTrust Foundation for their commitment to today’s students as well as their generous support of our mission to end economic illiteracy statewide.” Learn more about MCEE at www.econed.org.

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