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An innovative peer teaching financial education program for kids

The Issue:

How to develop a scalable peer teaching financial literacy program that’s fun and easy enough for kids to teach other kids.


Amanda Christensen is an Extension Assistant Professor at Utah State University and a 4-H and youth Programs Educator with Morgan County Extension.utah state - peer teaching financial education


Christensen, Dave Francis, Zuri Garcia, and Stacey MacArthur, Associate Professors at Utah State University Extension, created the Utah 4-H & Fidelity Investments Money Mentors Program, a unique peer-to-peer financial education curriculum for high school and junior high school students. The peer teaching project won the Fidelity Investments Financial Education Grant Challenge. The challenge aimed to enhance financial literacy for high school students in low-income areas using Fidelity’s employee volunteers and financial expertise. Utah 4-H’s winning idea was selected from 73 entries submitted from 30 states. The program draws on 4-H’s “Teens Reaching Youth” model.


  • Seeking a model that scales easily, the financial education program relies on a train-the-trainer and peer education model.
  • “We train Fidelity volunteers on the curriculum. The Fidelity volunteers teach high-school-aged kids on the curriculum. High school students then teach middle-school-aged kids in their respective counties across the state. So it’s train-the-trainer to the ultimate degree,” says Christensen.
  • As a result, the peer teaching curriculum has to be simple and engaging. “Somebody who knows nothing about financial literacy education can teach it,” says Christensen.
  • Fidelity Investments employees trained a few dozen high school students drawn from across the state in the first stage of the peer teaching program.
    • The training for the students takes place during one weekend. Firstly, students receive one day of training in teaching skills, including classroom management. Subsequently, they dedicate another day to delve into the Money Mentors Curriculum.
    • High school students selected for the program do not need any prior financial knowledge or expertise.
    • The financial training is six lessons. The first lesson uses Money Habitudes cards.
    • The subsequent 1-hour lessons cover Creating a Spending Blueprint, Saving and Sharing (philanthropy), Credit, Investing, and Investing in Yourself (human capital). While designed as a series, each lesson can be taught as a standalone class too.
  • “We do Money Habitudes right off the bat. As a financial educator, it’s crucial to address and raise awareness before discussing investing, credit use, or creating a spending plan. They’ve got to know where they’re coming from and what their foundation is. So that’s the first lesson,” says Christensen.
    • The Money Habitudes lesson takes 20-30 minutes.
    • Money Habitudes cards facilitate fun, hands-on discussions, aiding students in understanding financial habits.
    • Before sorting the cards, students fill out a brief money values worksheet. After the activity, students allocate a mock $100 bill based on their Money Habitudes, dividing it into $50, $30, and $20 sections.
  • Once trained, teens return to their communities with a mandate to train at least 15 younger students on the 6-hour program over the next year. This may be in schools, camps, or after-school programs like 4-H. High school students receive awards for reaching more kids.
  • High school students teach in a “TRY Team.” (TRY stands for “Teens Reaching Youth.”) Each team is made up of 2-4 teens and their adult coach. The coach is usually a local 4-H educator or teacher.
  • The goal of the peer teaching program is to easily multiply the number of instances of financial education as one team of high school students will teach dozens of other students. And, as younger students are taught finances, older students continuously learn the material by teaching it, a common 4-H practice.



“Money Habitudes is the first actual activity in the first lesson. It’s an individual endeavor; each kid completes it on their own. However, upon concluding that activity, we came together, consequently generating automatic talking points. It’s the first day of the first lesson. Money Habitudes provides a comfortable foundation for kids to discuss the challenging topic of money, fostering open conversations. It gives them common ground,” says Christensen.