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Author: Don Obrien

Milwaukee students learn importance of personal finance


MILWAUKEE — During the week, Heaven Renee Williamson can be found at a computer at Milwaukee Hamilton High School, learning the importance of personal finance.


What You Need To Know

  • Milwaukee Public Schools is piloting a Personal Finance curriculum 
  • More than 470 students across three schools are enrolled in the course
  • MPS received a grant from Next Gen Personal Finance to build their curriculum
  • It will become a graduation requirement starting in 2028

In one of her classes, Williamson is learning how to budget the money she’ll make in her career. 

“I’m going to school for psychology to become a therapist, and business and finance to become a real estate investor,” Williamson said. 

To start, she has to find out the average salary she could make. 

“As a therapist, I will make $31 an hour, so about $64,000 a year,” Williamson said.

From there, she has an excel spreadsheet where she enters her net pay, gross pay, takes out money for taxes and bills, and finds out how much she’ll have leftover every month. 

She said it’s something she and her classmates don’t really think about too often. 

“At the moment, no, but we’ve got to think ahead,” Williamson said. 

That’s why the Milwaukee Public School Board of Directors voted to make personal finance courses a requirement to graduate starting in 2028. 

Right now, it’s an elective course to test out the potential program.

“It’s important to give schools an opportunity to really work with students to develop the course, and allow students to give us feedback on how we can improve the course and make it more meaningful for them,” said Marti Diaz, the Financial Literacy Teacher Mentor with Milwaukee Public Schools.

Diaz said there are more than 470 students across three schools at Greentree Prep, Riverside, and Hamilton High Schools enrolled in the program. 

“In the spring, we’d like to add on six more schools,” Diaz said. 

To help, MPS was awarded a grant from Next Gen Personal Finance, a company that provides personal finance curriculums for schools all across the nation. 

This year, MPS was the largest urban school district to get a grant to develop the program, according to MPS. 

“For our city and for our district, that we’re able to have this opportunity for our students to learn about personal finance is really incredible,” Diaz said. 

Students said even though it’s not a requirement yet, more students should take these courses. 

“It’s important because it actually teaches you about the real world, and not just book stuff,” Williamson said.



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