Delaware State University announced the launch of a new Financial Literacy Institute (FLi) with support from Schwab Advisor Services in partnership with the Charles Schwab Foundation. The company has pledged a four-year grant to facilitate the creation of the new program, as well as the expansion of the Financial Planning curriculum and the renovation of the Financial Network Trading Room operated by the University’s College of Business.
“This partnership is exciting because the need to improve the financial planning and wealth management skills of our students is essential to our core mission of changing their life trajectories,” said University President Tony Allen. “It is potentially devastating to realize that families of color amass wealth at a rate seven times below that of white families, and that in the wake of COVID this gap is increasing. Our education of these young people has to include top-flight training in how to acquire, manage, and grow their wealth, whether they’re becoming teachers, scientists, or joining an independent advisory firm.”
“Anytime we can join with academia to bring more awareness to the Registered Investment Advisor profession and do our part in helping to create interest among students, we are all in,” said Bernie Clark, head of Schwab Advisor Services. “It is incredibly important that we build a pipeline of diverse and high-quality professionals for independent advisory firms to hire in the future, and we are thrilled with the efforts underway at Delaware State University that we believe will make that a reality.”
The partnership will support the College of Business in expanding its Financial Management programming for Business majors. The tools and resources provided by the new Financial Literacy Institute (FLi) will allow students to learn more about wealth management, build relationships with industry leaders, explore careers in the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) profession, and help foster community outreach. The University is currently in the process of converting its minor in Financial Planning into a full-fledged Financial Planning and Wealth Management degree concentration, “but we’ve not been able to offer the program at full potential yet,” said Dr. Nandita Das, Professor of Finance, who will play a key leadership role in FLi’s organization and development. “The infusion of Schwab’s expertise and support allows us to complete that project to the benefit of our students.”
“The Financial Literacy Institute will not just focus on young people while they are attending college,” emphasized Dr. Michael Casson, Dean of the College of Business. “We begin with programming and counseling to high school students and their families across our primary recruiting area in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and New York City,” Casson said. “This engagement continues as new students move through the enrollment and financial aid process, then is interwoven into courses, workshops, certification, experiential learning, and degree offerings while they are here.”
“The support and education does not stop at graduation,” added Dr. Das. “We will be providing our alumni access to workshops and counseling focused on wealth management. What the Schwab support gives us is the resources to impact our students and alumni over the course of their lives, to become a consistent, sustaining resource. This is the magic of the multiple touchpoint approach.”
“A partnership of this significance wouldn’t be possible without strong faculty leaders like Dr. Das,” noted Dean Casson. “We will be depending on her and others to carry a huge amount of the load as we begin to spread out financial literacy education to high school students in four states and the District of Columbia.”
Allen stressed the importance of the high school outreach component, saying, “We’ve learned through experience with our own Early College High School that we’ve got to break down the artificial barriers between K-12 and higher education in order to engage these young people holistically, and start that process as early as possible.”
“What makes this partnership so innovative,” Casson noted, “is the active role that Schwab will play, especially in the critical foundation elements of high school outreach. With their support, our first objective is to begin training programs for 1,500 high school juniors and seniors across our catchment area, and our Charles Schwab FLi Champions will follow them into the University as new Freshmen.”
Delaware State University will collaborate to establish an advisory board of nonprofit, regulatory, and private sector organizations, as well as school districts and other higher-education institutes, to guide and promote the effort.