MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) are taking a new initiative to empower their students. By 2026, the district plans to incorporate a financial literacy course as a condition of graduation for all students.
Currently at Hamilton, Riverside and Green Tree Prepatory Academy, high school students have the option of taking a financial literacy course.
For grade 11 student Kenila Lewis-Johnson of Green Tree Prep, signing up for the financial literacy class this semester was a revelation.
âI want to be able to spend my money the way I should and how I want to,â Lewis-Johnson said.
Teacher Hannah Lippstreur jumped at the chance to teach the course at Green Tree this semester, mainly because she would like the chance to learn money management skills when she was in high school.
âIt’s something that is going to have an impact on the rest of their life. Finances seep into every aspect of your life, no matter how old you are,â Lippstreur said.
At the start of the semester, Lippstreur gave his 20 high school students a basic financial literacy test with everyday terminology. She says none of her students scored more than 40% on the exam, which makes her job all the more imperative.
âIt’s really cool teaching them how to save for the things they want, why it’s important to have an emergency fund, etc.,â Lippstreur said.
Students learn everything from running a savings account to building a credit score.
âBudgeting, having a checking account and a savings account was one of the first things we learned, how to save money and just build that foundation. We’re just starting to get into more advanced things like credit and then we’ll be getting into investing soon. “
Lewis-Johnson is grateful for the class because she never learned the majority of the program at home.
âI love this class because it prepares us for the future,â Lewis-Johnson said.
Next semester, MPS plans to introduce the course to seven more schools in the district.