By Daniel Coats ’15, ’18
The Cal State Fullerton Center for Economic Education is the recipient of the 2022 Albert Beekhuis Award from the National Council for Economic Education. The recognition, which includes a $1,000 honorarium, is bestowed upon programs that connect well with K-12 educators, deliver high-quality programs and successfully reach out in the community.
“This award is a validation of the work that the center has been doing for more than a decade in the field of financial and economic literacy,” says Radha Bhattacharya, director of the Center for Economic Education.
From providing economic literacy education to Southern California schoolchildren to enlisting CSUF business and economics students to provide personal finance instruction to residents transitioning from homelessness, the center’s impact in Orange County has been powerful – and is getting stronger each year.
Reaching Higher and Providing Economic Literacy Education
“The Center for Economic Education’s efforts at outreach are bearing fruit,” explains Bhattacharya.
“Research on the impact of our programs is published in peer-reviewed journals. California high schools are not required to teach personal finance. The center’s research indicates that teaching a mere eight-class period of personal finance in a high school economics course increases personal finance knowledge by 13 percentage points.”
In addition to reaching schoolchildren, the center’s mission has grown in the past five years.
“Our mission is expanding to provide workforce skills to people living in homeless shelters. Our students can tutor shelter residents to help them pass their GED. Living in the current landscape of high inflation with a recession looming in the horizon makes it all the more necessary to focus on promoting financial and economic literacy. Alumni, donors and the campus community involved in supporting the center’s work will definitely see positive effects in the community.”
Founded in 1965, the Center for Economic Education predates most Centers of Excellence at Cal State Fullerton’s business college, but it was the Great Recession of 2008 that brought the need for financial literacy to the forefront.
In 2011, the center played an active role in expanding financial literacy through the Individual Development Account Program, giving youngsters from low-income schools a matched savings that can be used toward college and career preparation later on. Established with the support of U.S. Bank, the program is now in its fourth version as it adapts to changing needs.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the center has conducted workshops to train teachers on personal finance and economics topics, including a March 2021 fireside chat on fiscal policy in the COVID era.
Financial Fitness Nights for Families have been held at a dozen low-income school sites over the past two years, informing students, parents and teachers and tasking them with joint participation on activities, such as identifying wants and needs, how to save, and how to be a wise consumer.
Business and economics student interns, including Alan Garduno ’21, help to coordinate these activities and support bilingual Spanish outreach.
For More on Economic Education
The Center for Economic Education is always seeking new opportunities to connect the expertise of the college’s faculty and the hard work and enthusiasm of the college’s business and economics students with economic and financial literacy needs in the community.
For more information on how to get involved as a student, faculty member or community partner, reach out to email@example.com.
Or read more of our articles on economic literacy education.