The Money Bus has arrived

April 10 2006

Indiana State University's Networks Financial Institute (NFI) has unveiled an exciting and innovative concept in the world of financial literacy education - an interactive classroom on wheels.

The "Kids Count on the Money Bus" - or the "Money Bus," for short - will be a visual, hands-on way of exposing young students, particularly in grades three through five, to financial concepts, such as saving and spending wisely, managing financial accounts, using credit and debit cards, and much more.

The Money Bus officially made its debut April 10 as part of NFI's second Indiana Financial Literacy Conference in Indianapolis in conjunction with April being National Financial Literacy Month.

It will be unveiled for ISU dignitaries, legislators, supporters and friends of ISU at a special reception April 20 at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. The reception will take place as part of NFI's financial literacy community event - "An Evening with Michelle Singletary." Singletary, author, television host and nationally syndicated Washington Post columnist, will use her humor and down-home style to educate attendees about financial literacy and the importance of saving.

From Whence We Came

To get a better understanding of the state of financial literacy instruction, NFI conducted a survey of teachers of Indiana's youth from kindergarten through 12th grade. In the process, they learned a lot about what is and isn't happening in the area of financial literacy in Indiana's classrooms.

Based on the research, it was determined that 46 percent of the teachers polled do not teach financial literacy at the kindergarten through fifth-grade levels, and 54 percent do not teach financial literacy at all. This situation exists despite the fact that 80 percent of K-12 teachers polled feel it is important to teach financial literacy in their classrooms. Seventy-five percent said they would teach more about financial literacy if there were academic standards directly relating to it.

Armed with this information, NFI turned its attention to tapping into the desire and energy that most Indiana teachers have for teaching financial literacy, in part, by addressing the specific barriers they face - time, resources and clear standards.

"Our hope is that the Money Bus will be a catalyst for change in the hearts and minds of Indiana's educational and political leaders," said Elizabeth Coit, executive director of ISU's Networks Financial Institute, "that the bus will add critical weight to a move toward an integrated, standards-driven financial literacy program from kindergarten through high school."

All the Bells and Whistles

As early focus groups were conducted, very clear ideas surfaced as to what the Money Bus should encompass. First, it needed to be available at little or no cost to the schools. Its primary focus should be on learning rather than entertainment, with a solid, comprehensive curriculum at its core. Finally, the curriculum must be mapped to Indiana academic standards in order to be relevant.

Bringing such a creative, detailed concept to life took many hours, minds and hands, including manufacturer Farber Specialty Vehicles; designer Rowland Design Inc.; builder Murphy Catton Co.; and curriculum developer Words and Numbers Inc., in conjunction with Priscilla Wolfe, director of the Leadership Development Institute in ISU's College of Business; and many others.

"This is truly a one-of-a-kind initiative," said David Godsted, director of outreach for ISU's Networks Financial Institute.

The Money Bus curriculum will be experienced through an in-school bank and 13 different financial literacy activities inside and outside the 40-foot passenger coach. Two features are swipe-card technology to track a student's participation and purchases while on board, and the "Build Your Own Sundae" exhibit which shows students how sundaes vary in price based on the ingredients.

"The Money Bus is important in ways far beyond the students' lives it will benefit," said Ron Green, dean of ISU's College of Business. "It will act as an outreach for ISU, connecting younger students with the university's financial literacy programs. We hope that this will increase interest across the state and region in ISU's academic programs and initiatives."

Show Me the Money Bus

NFI will pilot its Money Bus program this spring and through the summer months. Official visits will begin this fall. The bus's future activities will be coordinated by a staff facilitator, who will schedule activities with schools, teachers, volunteers and students.

For more information about the "Money Bus" project or to request a visit to your school, contact David Godsted, NFI's director of outreach, toll free at 1-800-603-7113 or (317) 536-0281, Ext. 709, or at You may also visit ISU's Networks Financial Institute Web site at

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Story Highlights

The Money Bus officially made its debut April 10 as part of NFI's second Indiana Financial Literacy Conference in Indianapolis in conjunction with April being National Financial Literacy Month.

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