WASHINGTON (1/28/15)--The Credit Union National Association has named policymakers from North Dakota and Florida the winners of the Desjardins Financial Education Award for State Government Policymakers.
The award, which is determined by CUNA's State Credit Union Subcommittee, recognizes the leadership in financial education at the state level. State government policymakers who promote financial education to individuals of any age may be nominated.
Kelly Schmidt, North Dakota's treasurer, was nominated by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD) for making financial literacy a "priority for her office."
Schmidt has tackled financial literacy in North Dakota with a number of initiatives, including through a partnership among Visa, the NFL and NFL Players that led to the "Financial Football" money management video game.
Jeff Olson, CUAD executive vice president of government affairs, noted that Treasurer Schmidt is truly passionate about financial education, adding "Her position as the top fiduciary executive in one of the best-run states in the country carries significant clout among our policymakers while promoting financial education in the state."
Olson emphasized that "this distinguished recognition will help in her mission of helping people understand how to better navigate their personal finances and make positive changes in their lives."
The state's treasurer also has served as chair of the National Association of State Treasurers Foundation and was a featured speaker at the National Financial Education Network meeting hosted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where she addressed ways the state and local governments and leaders can provide personal finance to its' citizens.
"Financial education is about the individual," Schmidt said. "You have to make concepts personal so people will care and understand."
Nominated by the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU), Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) is the second recipient of the award.
"Sen. Hukill embodies this award because she recognizes the need for financial literacy for our students," said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine. "She not only filed a bill to require a half-credit of financial literacy for high school students for graduation, but she also filed a bill to help individuals with developmental disabilities get financial education. The league and our credit unions have been working closely with Sen. Hukill to gain support for this legislation."
She introduced a bill that bolsters financial literacy for individuals with development disabilities through the creation of a program that brings financial services stakeholders throughout Florida together to offer assistance to the population.
Hukill also authored Bill 92, the Personal Financial Literacy Education Act, which makes a half-credit, full-semester course in personal financial literacy education a graduation requirement for high-school students.
La Pine said Hukill understands that for consumers to attain financial freedom, they need to have a grasp of their finances, which starts with financial education.
"Personal financial education is an essential life skill that all students need to be learning now," Hukill said. "Preparing our students with these skills will allow them to achieve financial stability through a better understanding of their finances."
Further, Hukill drove the effort to make April 2015 Financial Literacy Month, when all residents in the state will be urged to recognize that financial literacy is an important part of a student's education "in order to ensure their bright futures."
Hukill also published opinion pieces in state newspapers to help raise awareness of the importance of the issue of financial literacy among young people in Florida and pushed Florida to participate in National Thrift Week.