Financial Fitness Foundation, FHSU's Docking Institute rolling out educational program

"Too many adults believe Social Security will be there to keep them afloat at the end of their working lives. We just can't count on that anymore," says Jill Docking, president and founder of the Financial Fitness Foundation (F3).

"They don't get how a little bit of money can grow over a long period of time. I just don't think most people get it," she says.

Based in Wichita, Kansas F3 has spent the past five years working with Fort Hays State University's Docking Institute of Public Affairs. Established in 1999, it was formed as a not-for-profit group dedicated to teaching youth to make responsible financial choices for their futures. The two organizations have collaborated during this time to develop and conduct educational seminars (STRIDE to Financial Fitness), and have created educational materials to directly educate high school juniors and seniors in Kansas.

With the passage of Senate Bill 74 in the spring of 2003, the direction of F3 changed. This legislation requires the state board of education to develop standards and objectives for personal financial literacy for all grade levels. It further mandates that Kansas schools incorporate personal finance topics into their curriculum, making Kansas unusual among the 50 states.

As a result of this new legislation, F3 joined forces with the Docking Institute of Public Affairs once again. Through the help of a generous grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, they have successfully completed production of a viable, high energy, interactive curriculum program to be used in high school classrooms. This program features videos, PowerPoint presentations, student and teacher manuals, discussion questions and activities for both in and out of the classroom, based on the ?STRIDE to Financial Fitness? educational seminars.

Carol Rupe, F3 executive director, Jean Walker, projects manager at the Docking Institute, Tonja Vallin, Docking Institute policy fellow, and Christina Davidson, FHSU student and STRIDE presenter, have trained 10 high school teachers to use this program in their classrooms beginning in January 2004. Dixie Thomas, a high school teacher from USD 259 is one such teacher.

"I'm thrilled that this outstanding curriculum is available, as there is a tremendous need for financial education in our schools," she said.

After going through the training program, Thomas said, "the STRIDE program is designed in such a way that students will have fun as they learn the important skills needed to become financially fit."

After the initial testing of this pilot program, these teachers and their students will be surveyed about the program's success in teaching students about financial literacy. The Docking Institute will facilitate focus groups, and provide a final recommendation as to whether the STRIDE curriculum will be continued and expanded to other Kansas high schools.

More information on this program is available from Walker, the Docking Institute projects manager. She can be contacted by phone at (785) 628-5952, by e-mail at, or by mail at the Docking Institute of Public Affairs, Fort Hays State University, 600 Park St., Hays, KS 67601.

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