About the Program
At the center of our financial literacy initiatives is the Financial Literacy Certification program, a groundbreaking innovation in financial education for high school students. The goal of the program is simple—to help high school students graduate as financially capable young adults. Participating high schools teach a course or unit on personal finance and then administer our national, standardized Financial Literacy Certification Test.
To support instruction, we provide professional development and instructional resources including webinar training, a detailed curriculum outline aligned with national and state standards, a comprehensive resources directory and online practice quizzes. Pretesting is also available.
Earning a Certificate
The hallmark program feature is the W!se Certified Financially Literate™ (CFL™) credential awarded to students who pass the Test. The credential demonstrates to colleges and employers that students have the knowledge and skills to be financially savvy. Teachers and schools are also recognized based on students’ performance on the Test. Our highest accolade, the annual ranking of the “Wise 100 Best High Schools Teaching Personal Finance” is the first ranking of its kind in the country.
Developing Smart Habits
Financial literacy is not only about being knowledgeable about personal finance, it’s also about developing smart financial habits. Our Certification program is one of the first to gather data about students’ personal finance behaviors. Results have consistently shown that the program improves their personal finance behavior—more students are budgeting, setting financial goals, opening bank accounts and saving after instruction, a strong indication they are applying what they learned in the classroom outside of school. At the same time, a 2017 national survey by W!se indicated that 15.5% of high school students have never thought of opening a savings account and 10% reported that they were uncomfortable opening an account by themselves.
“Participating in the W!se program transformed my life. It has taught me how to plan for my financial future and change my bad spending habits. Now I save money for college fees, I pay phone bills on time every month and, instead of using my credit card, I use money I’ve saved to buy gifts for my parents on their birthdays.” Zoha, NYC FL Student
The W!se Financial Literacy Ambassador Award is a $4,000 monetary award distributed to four students ($1,000 each) in our national network (49 States and Guam) who earn at least 95% on our Financial Literacy Certification Test in the 2019-20 school year. We received 148 submissions from eligible students. Four winners from the judging process will each receive $1,000 for a total award of $4,000, generously sponsored by the Financial Literacy Outreach (FLO) Mentors, a group of W!se volunteers passionate about helping young Americans become financially literate.
Launched in New York City in 2003, the program has become integral to personal finance instruction nationally. It is recognized by many states’ departments of education and has earned W!se numerous awards, including the U.S. Treasury Department’s John H. Sherman Award for Excellence in Financial Education.
“W!se’s industry Certification is important because it lets companies know that students have acquired knowledge that is vital to a life of personal financial well-being.” Judith P. Sams, Program Specialist, Virginia Department of Education