Who We Are
w!se is a groundbreaking educational nonprofit that provides financial education, college and career readiness programs, and services to students, educators and at-risk adults. We are spearheading a national effort to empower people, especially the underserved, to lead lives of financial well-being, succeed in college and excel in an increasingly competitive global workforce.
w!se leads the way in financial education, offering a suite of diverse, cutting-edge financial literacy programs that include standardized assessments and widely recognized financial literacy certifications to measure and reward success. These programs have repeatedly proven that they improve financial knowledge. They also improve financial behavior by encouraging people to budget, bank, save and set financial goals—key barometers of financial well-being. Our programs have earned w!se several awards, including the prestigious U.S. Treasury Department’s John Sherman Award for Excellence in Financial Education. Since 2013, w!se announces its national ranking of 100 Best High Schools teaching personal finance annually during April, Financial Literacy Month.
College and Career Readiness
We are at the forefront in preparing young people for college and career success. Our programs focus on the emotional, social and cognitive domains of learning, helping students to develop critical thinking, problem solving, research, technology, analytical and communication skills, while emphasizing the importance of high expectations, strong work ethic, integrity, professionalism and self-motivation.
The programs we offer differ in scope and target audience, but they share a common thread: a commitment to develop real-world skills necessary to achieve the American dream! To learn more about how w!se has grown our programs over time, read more about our history.
Many Americans are not cultivating financial habits critical to achieving the American dream like saving for college and retirement, building wealth or avoiding the pitfalls of credit. Without an understanding of how their personal finances work, people are more likely to make poor financial decisions and fall into debt, foreclosure and bankruptcy.
The statistics are sobering: The U.S. ranked 7th globally in the most recent Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) evaluation of 15-year-olds’ aptitude in understanding essential financial concepts, products and risks. Among young Americans the situation is more alarming—less than 10% of high school students are considered financially literate (Jump$tart) and 62% of millennials feel “overwhelmed, “anxious” or “scared” about their finances (Bank of America/USA Today).
Financial education is not the only pressing need. A high school diploma alone is no longer a ticket to opportunity. To remain competitive, students must pursue high-quality vocational training programs or enroll in two- or four-year colleges.
Many employers and educators argue, however, that high school students are not equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in college or the workplace. Students from low- to moderate-income families are especially unprepared, which greatly reduces their chances of qualifying for a good job.
Research by w!se as well as by outside experts confirms that our financial education and college and career readiness programs are effective in addressing these needs and they resonate with students.
“Because of the w!se program, I will never forget about the importance of living within your means, budgeting and planning and considering wants vs. needs. I can now talk with my parents and other adults about money in a knowledgeable and educated way.” –Keeshawn, Cardinal Spellman HS