Class acts: Teaching kids financial literacy

  @Money July 12, 2013: 4:20 PM ET
financial literacy

Julia Heath, 56, economist and researcher and Douglas York, 51, financial literacy volunteer.

NEW YORK (Money Magazine)

These Money heroes are devoted to teaching young Americans about personal finance and the world of business.

Julia Heath, 56, economist and researcher

After 20 years studying family economic issues as a University of Memphis professor, Heath decided she could best help communities by training teachers to teach about finances.

In 2006 she set up $mart Tennessee, one of the country's first financial education programs for grades K-8; it's now used in more than 500 schools.

Related: Does your state make the grade educating kids about finance?

She later co-created a curriculum backed by the Obama administration, Money as You Learn, which integrates lessons into math and English classes. Now head of the Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati, she's piloting her latest project: $mart Ohio.

"If you get children started early with financial education, you see much better results than if you wait until high school," says Health.

How to make a million dollars

Douglas York, 51, financial literacy volunteer

Thirteen years ago York's boss at the New York utility National Grid asked the sales forecaster if he'd volunteer through Junior Achievement to teach money skills in public schools. Hooked after one session, York, a father of three, has taught the five-hour course to as many as seven elementary school classes a year.

Related: 5 champions of financial education

His favorite audience? Third-graders, whom he helps build virtual cities and shows how banks and other businesses work. One of his employer's top JA recruiters and fundraisers, York says he gets the most satisfaction from grateful letters sent by former students.

"Sometimes kids will take advice from people in business that they won't from their parents," says York. To top of page

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