Financial Education in New England:
A Survey of Needs, Challenges and Practices

January 2013

Full report pdf

The Financial Education Unit at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is in the process of refining a multi-year strategy for improving financial capabilities in New England. In order to better understand the scope and reach of current initiatives, avoid duplicating efforts, and begin to build relationships with organizations throughout our district, the Financial Education Unit gathered critical intelligence on the needs of financial education providers from the non-profit, public and private sectors. The data collected will be used to identify the resources used throughout New England, understand gaps, and make an informed decision on the role that the Bank can play in the future.

Data were gathered primarily from people who provide financial education and whose efforts help increase the financial literacy or asset-building capacity of adults in the six New England states. Three phases were used in order to obtain the data: interviews with stakeholders at state treasurers’ departments and other state offices, interviews with financial educators, and a survey of financial educators.

Some significant findings from this survey include:

  • Respondents say the largest challenge they face is attracting participants to the learning opportunities they provide. Qualitative data suggest three reasons for this: lack of awareness about opportunities, lack of motivation to attend, and social stigma related to attending.
  • Respondents are generally dissatisfied with both individual follow-ups and peer support groups provided once the formal education opportunity has finished.
  • Approximately two-thirds of respondents report that they or their organizations assess their efforts. However, educators expressed a desire to obtain better tools for evaluating their own programs and evaluative information about resources available to them.