By Robert M. Church, DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation

Millions of Americans are coping with stress and anxiety as they deal with the unpredictability of their personal financial situations and the future due to the economic uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At-risk populations including moderate-low income, impoverished, women, and single parents are increasingly burdened with fears that include the lack of savings, job loss, inability to afford daily expenses, pay debts, their children’s future abilities to afford college. For many small business owners, these concerns are tied to the survival of their businesses. These are very real fears and their impact affects present and future generations of families.

Nearly half (45%) of U.S. adults have reported that their overall mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the virus, according to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted during March 2020. While another survey, by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that 69% of Americans ages 18 and up report having financial worries. In addition, a survey by the Brookings Institute states about 17.4% of mothers cannot afford to feed their children. Additionally, 24% of all small businesses nationally shut down due to COVID-19 with over 100,000 or more closing permanently according to The Washington Post. The results of these surveys indicate that financially at-risk populations, low-income families, women, and small business owners are particularly affected.

Small businesses account for approximately 48% of American jobs and play an important role in communities. Small businesses often serve as springboards for the building and practice of youth employment and basic money management skills, support local organizations, contribute to new business development and stimulate growth and stability within our communities.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic small and minority-owned small businesses are also disproportionality vulnerable according to a recent study by McKinsey & Company which demonstrates that minority-owned small businesses and employment is highest in the industries most affected by COVID-19 such as retail, food service, accommodation, and personal services.

Despite these many challenges small businesses are demonstrating flexibility in their ability to adapt to the current conditions. Today, many small businesses are experimenting with new ways of doing business to ensure their employees’ safety, offering relief to employees and community members, and introducing new services.

Another key element that supports growth and success of small businesses and communities include the development of personal financial skills. Personal finance skills ensure that today’s youth are prepared to manage their daily lives, plan for the future and grow to become financially successful individuals, small business owners, educated consumers and active community members.

At present, 37 states require financial literacy standards to be implemented, but only 20 states require personal finance education. Of those 20, only SIX states require a stand-alone course in personal finance to be offered under k-12 educational standards. In most states, personal finance skills are never taught. Here in NJ only about one in six public schools report teaching any skills related to personal finance.

DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation is a New Jersey based nonprofit whose mission is to prepare today’s students and the greater community for a lifetime of financial responsibility by developing and offering engaging and comprehensive personal finance programs to schools and communities. DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation has introduced The FitKit High School Edition, a comprehensive 60 course, the FitKit Middle School Edition, a 6-8 hour middle school curriculum and FitKit Express Community Programs (6 hour) co-brandable personal finance programs that seek to empower, build self-confidence, build personal finance skills, and give voice to financially at-risk individuals and families to ensure future generations thrive.

While providing quality personal finance education can benefit anyone, regardless of age, income, or background DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation (www.dmfinancialliteracy.org) believes that for at-risk populations the impact can be increasingly more positive. Personal Finance education helps people make informed choices, day-to-day, during difficult times, and throughout their lives.

As a society, we need to do more to encourage youth, families and communities to acquire the personal financial skills necessary to ensure that future generations of Americans succeed in achieving their financial goals and aspirations and to ensure small businesses flourish within our communities. Now is the time to invest in quality personal finance education and small and minority-owned small businesses that help to create jobs, economic opportunities, and educational opportunities within communities.

To learn more about DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation, our FitKit High School, Middle School, and FitKit Express Community Personal Finance Programs, the Financial Literacy Golf Classic, and how to adopt a school in your community with co-branded materials go to: www.DMFinancialLIteracy.org

 

-Kaiser Family Foundation. 3/20 https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/report/kff-health-tracking-poll-early-april-2020/

– National Foundation for Credit Counseling. https://www.nfcc.org/resources/client-impact-and-research/2020-conumer-financial-literacy-survey/

-Brookings Institute. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/05/06/the-covid-19-crisis-has-already-left-too-many-children-hungry-in-america/

– McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/covid-19s-effect-on-minority-owned-small-businesses-in-the-united-states