UB School of Management, M&T Bank Partner for Financial Literacy

By Jacqueline Ghosen

Release Date: June 8, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo School of Management and M&T Bank are partnering to bring an innovative personal finance curriculum into area high schools.

Through this public/private collaboration, announced today during a reception in UB's Jacobs Executive Development Center, M&T and the UB School of Management are reaching out to local high schools to help them integrate MoneySKILL™ into their curriculum.

MoneySKILL™ is a free, interactive, Internet curriculum designed to educate students to make informed financial decisions on a variety of personal finance issues, including income, money management, spending and credit, and saving and investing. It was developed by Lewis Mandell, professor of finance and managerial economics in the UB School of Management, and is supported by the American Financial Services Association Education Foundation.

Financial-literacy scores of high school seniors hover in the low- to mid-50 percent range, according to Mandell, who, since 1997, has conducted a biennial nationwide survey for the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy to determine how well 12th graders know the basics of personal finance.

"This indicates that, despite the attention now paid to the lack of financial literacy, the problem is not about to resolve itself anytime soon," says Mandell.

Although New York State requires high school students to complete at least one-third of a semester of study in personal financial management, there are no resources to help schools achieve this objective, nor are there penalties for failing to do so.

"We see a lot of young people making poor financial choices and they end up starting out life in the hole," said David Rutecki, vice president for government banking at M&T. "There's a need for personal finance education, but many schools already are strained with limited resources. This is a free program that could have a positive impact in the classroom and we think partnering with UB is a great way for M&T to offer support to local high schools."

Both organizations have people working on the outreach to area schools and the effort is being funded with a $43,675 grant from the M&T Charitable Foundation.

"The schools that already are using MoneySKILL™ through pilot programs are having great success, but we want to expand the number of schools using it, especially within the City of Buffalo," says John M. Thomas, dean of the UB School of Management. "Ultimately, we would like every school in Western New York to adopt this program."

The UB School of Management and M&T Bank will provide free teacher training and technical support for MoneySKILL™, making it easy for teachers to use. And because the program can be completed online by students outside of regular class time, teachers don't have to change their daily lesson plans.

In addition, a built-in grade book electronically records each student's test scores and course grade, and MoneySKILL™ is regularly updated as tax regulations and financial products and services change. The next free teacher orientation session is being scheduled for August by the UB School of Management.

Several participating area high school teachers and students who attended the reception were acknowledged for their success in bringing MoneySKILL™ into their schools.

MoneySKILL™ has been introduced into a number of area high schools, including Barker, Bishop Timon - St. Jude, Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, Cardinal O'Hara, Clarence Senior, Frontier Central, Hamburg, Hutchinson Central Technical, Iroquois, Kenmore East, Mount Mercy Academy, Newfane, North Tonawanda, Orchard Park, Springville-Griffith Institute, Villa Maria Academy, Williamsville East and Williamsville North. It also is being used in the Kenton Career and Technical Center.

Teachers or school representatives interested in learning more about MoneySKILL™ can contact Cynthia Shore, assistant dean for corporate and community relations in the UB School of Management at (716) 645-3226 or cshore@buffalo.edu.

The University at Buffalo School of Management is ranked as one of the world's top business schools by The Wall Street Journal. It also has been cited by Forbes for "best return on investment." For more information about the UB School of Management, visit http://www.mgt.buffalo.edu.

M&T Bank, celebrating its 150th anniversary in downtown Buffalo, serves customers at more than 650 branches in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.