The Positive Impact of Student Financial Literacy Transcends the Classroom

Published 04/24/2017

To recognize Financial Literacy Month, Forum spoke to Principal Teresa Chrobak-Prince at Phoebe A. Hearst Fine Arts Magnet School. An educator with Chicago Public Schools for more than 25 years, Principal Chrobak-Prince’s leadership philosophy is based on a commitment to student-centered learning. Hearst recently attained the highest school rating reaching Level 1+.


How long has Hearst worked with Climb to Safety and offered students a financial literacy component?

Hearst began working with Climb to Safety at the start of 2016–2017 school year. We chose to participate based on a recognized need within the community for financial literacy.

Today's schools are places where students are asked to take an active part in their own learning rather than simply sitting idly by as consumers of information. But financial literacy is one area of preparation for college and career that is sorely overlooked in many schools.

I hold an uncompromising view that ALL students can learn, given a safe and nurturing atmosphere that encourages inquiry and enhances students' efficacy.


What impresses you about the students participating in Climb to Safety?

They are more than capable of having conversations about being financially responsible starting with the ability to identify the difference between needs and wants. This level of financial awareness will help our students to be more successful.


Why do so many parents avoid talking to their children about money?

It can be difficult for parents to talk to their children about money if their own finances are not in order. They may not feel like they have the capacity to teach financial skills when they do not understand personal finance topics very well. Misinformed parents create misinformed children. 


What have parents said to you about the financial literacy program?

Parents are excited that the program creates savings for college with curriculum that teaches their children to monitor how those funds are growing while learning to manage how funds are distributed.

Note: Every class that participates in Climb to Safety’s financial literacy program establishes its own 529 College Savings Account through donated funds. Classroom accounts are divided into individual 529 accounts for each participating student upon graduation.


How do you think Hearst students will handle life’s financial challenges as they move to adulthood now that they have this foundation of knowledge?

What students learn today has the potential to influence generations to come. The students who continue with the program for the duration of their academic career at Hearst could possibly be the first member of their family to knowledgably handle their personal finances as adults. For Hearst students, the effect of this program will extend beyond the classroom to the family as well as the greater community.


Photo: The main entrance to Phoebe A. Hearst Fine Arts Magnet School. (Teresa Chrobak-Prince) 


About Climb to Safety

Climb to Safety is devoted to teaching financial literacy to elementary school students. Founded by Forum advisor Michelle Weindruch, CFP®, Climb to Safety endeavors to bridge the financial knowledge gap and prepare students for many of the complex financial issues they will encounter as adults. For more information, visit

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