MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) are taking on a new initiative to empower their students financially. By 2028 the district has plans to incorporate a financial literacy class as a graduation requirement for all students.
Currently at Hamilton, Riverside, and Green Tree Prepatory Academy, high school students have the opportunity to take a financial literacy course.
For 11th grader, Kenila Lewis-Johnson at Green Tree Prep, enrolling in the financial literacy course this semester was eye-opening.
"I want to be able to spend my money how I should and how I want to," said Lewis-Johnson.
Teacher Hannah Lippstreur jumped at the opportunity to teach the course at Green Tree this semester, mainly because she wishes she had the chance to learn money management skills when she was in high school.
"This is something that is going to impact the rest of their lives. Finances seep into every aspect of your life no matter how old you are," said Lippstreur.
At the start of the semester, Lippstreur gave all 20 of her high school students a basic financial literacy test with everyday terminology. She says not one of her students scored above a 40 percent on the exam, making her job that much more imperative.
"It's been really nice to teach them how to save up for things that they want, why it's important to have an emergency fund, etc," said Lippstreur.
Students are learning everything from managing a savings account to building a credit score.
"Budgeting, having a checking account, and a savings account was one of the first things we learned, how to save money and just kinda building that foundation. We're just now starting to get into the more advanced stuff like credit and next we're gonna get into investing soon."
Lewis-Johnson is grateful for the class because she was never taught a majority of the curriculum at home.
"I like this class because it gets us prepared for the future," said Lewis-Johnson.
Next semester, MPS plans to introduce the course in up to 10 more schools across the district.