We talk so much about the need for STEM education. Kids need computer skills, engineering skills, science of all kinds. We mourn the disappearance of cursive from the curriculum. We discuss which books our kids should be reading, and whether new math is genius — or a thing of horror. (I’ll withhold my POV for a moment on this one, ha.) We talk about foreign language education and the importance of art, about phys ed and the decrease in outdoor play.

But I rarely, if ever, hear parents talk about one subject: Economics.

And if we do talk about it, it’s not with the same concern we discuss classes in nutrition, health, or immersion Spanish.

Economics is really just learning how to be smart about money.

When you think about it, an understanding of economic concepts and money management skills are essential to every single kid in America, because it will impact each of them no matter where they live, what their interests, how much their parents make, or what career they pursue.

And yet…crickets, basically.

That’s why I’m really pleased to help our sponsor MassMutual get the word out about their FutureSmart challenge, a curriculum that’s intended to reach 2 million US middle school and high school students by 2020, so more of our kids will have the solid financial education they need to help them navigate the world.

I’m really passionate about this initiative, personally, and here’s why.

Hill Harper inspiring a stadium full of middle schoolers about...economics! | MassMutual FutureSmart initiative (sponsor)

Hill Harper teaching an arena full of middle schoolers about...economics. And making it fun! | MassMutual FutureSmart initiative (sponsor)

Middle schoolers learning about economics -- and enjoying it! | MassMutual FutureSmart initiative (sponsor)

Actor, author, and speaker Hill Harper inspires and educates middle schoolers at the TD Garden in Boston. I’ve never seen kids so enthusiastic about economics!  (Arena photos besides top image by Scott Eisen/Boston Celtics)


There are some things we can teach…and some things better left to the experts.

I haven’t always made perfect financial choices (though I have made a few big ones I’m proud of!) and I want my kids to have better tools, better resources, better instruction overall to help them have a healthy relationship with money.

I’m not alone by the way — only 43% of parents feel “well prepared” to have money conversations with their kids. And only 25% of millennials can correctly answer some basic financial wellness questions.

Consider: Which group are you in? Can you discuss topics like investment risk or compound interest with confidence? Or the specific financial impact that higher education has on earning potential? Hey, maybe you should take the course too!

I especially love that through the NBA partnership and use of their arenas around the country, MassMutual is able to reach a truly diverse group of tweens and teens, so that kids of all kinds of economic backgrounds will have the same information to help them make smart money choices through life, which will in turn help lift all of us.

Hill Harper's brilliant lesson in investing (in Nike stock) vs spending (on Nike LeBrons) : Click to read more | MassMutual FutureSmart curriculum (sponsor)

Brilliant: Hill Harper describes the price of his LeBron James sneakers…then takes them off and signs them, handing them to two of the kids. Maybe they’ll be smart and sell them and invest the profits?

Credit scores, budgeting, 529 plans:
It’s not about money, it’s about dreams

The FutureSmart digital course and free app covers topics for middle schoolers like financial values, goal setting, budgeting, saving and investing, and risk vs return.

High school kids get instruction in slightly more complex concepts including payment types, credit scores, how to finance higher education, taxes, insurance, investing, and renting vs owning.

And having watched some of the demo videos and seen some of the materials, they actually make it really interesting and relatable. What kid doesn’t want to think about the dreams they have for the future and how to help make them happen?

MassMutual FutureSmart curriculum is helping 2 million US students become financially savvy by 2020. Find out how to bring it into your school (sponsor)

How to bring the MassMutual FutureSmart economics curriculum to your middle or high school (sponsor)


If you want to bring the FutureSmart curriculum into your own child’s school, just visit the site and fill out the form. It would be pretty cool if your own kids were among those 2 million.

Thanks to our sponsor for helping to raise more financially savvy kids — and adults! Learn more about MassMutual’s FutureSmart program and their goal to reach 2 million students by 2020. They’re already at 1.3 million! 


This article was sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001. www.massmutual.com All opinions are those of the author.

MassMutual offers this as educational information only, and does not endorse or offer the companies or strategies discussed here.

The information provided is not written or intended as specific tax or legal advice. MassMutual, its employees and representatives are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.