Like all state treasurers, former Delaware State Treasurer Chip Flowers had a responsibility to improve the financial strength of the state he served — from the macroeconomic conditions that ensure strong, stable communities to the “micro,” household-level concerns that affect individual and family decision-making. During his tenure, he was fortunate to be able to leverage a powerful program called Financial Football — the fruit of a partnership between Visa, the National Football League, various state treasuries and other organizations — to advance this goal.
Chip Flowers: a vision for better financial education
Growing up in a military family, Flowers was fortunate enough to have parents who educated him about the value of a dollar. But his own experience taught him that not every child is so fortunate. Using these life-lessons, he resolved to provide as many kids as possible with the same invaluable opportunities that he enjoyed in his youth. Thanks to Financial Football, he was able to achieve this goal as Delaware State Treasurer. In fact, due to the interactive, online nature of Financial Football, he in some ways exceeded it, reaching children and parents far beyond the slender borders of his home state.
What’s Financial Football?
For former Treasurer Flowers, the Financial Football story began in 2013, when the Delaware State Treasury, Visa and representatives from the Baltimore Ravens — sorry, Eagles fans — announced the launch of the program in Delaware.
The release that accompanied the announcement described Financial Football as “a free educational video game and classroom curriculum” that awards yardage and touchdowns to students who correctly answer questions about personal finance. By redirecting kids who get the wrong answers, the game steadily builds financial know-how without sacrificing the thrills of a hard-fought game of pigskin.
According to the release, Flowers was able to get every middle and high school in Delaware, plus a who’s-who of community organizations and social charities, to sign on to the initiative. This achievement put Financial Football in the hands of tens of thousands of children across the state — many of whom don’t have access to the educational opportunities that Treasurer Flowers enjoyed as a child.
Education really can improve outcomes
Financial Football is part of Visa’s Practical Money Skills program, a comprehensive personal finance education initiative that has achieved stunning results during its short life span. Components of Practical Money Skills, including Financial Football, are now available to millions of students in a majority of U.S. states. Smartphone and tablet apps make programs more accessible to on-the-go students, and innovative state treasurers like Chip Flowers are continually experimenting with new initiatives to complement them.
These initiatives are making a real difference. In Delaware, for instance, Flowers integrated Visa’s programming into the state’s Prosperity Portal, a comprehensive database of easy-to-understand educational material for kids and adults. Anecdotal evidence from schools and community organizations suggests that the Prosperity Portal has boosted kids’ financial literacy and improved retention. Will other state treasurers follow Flowers’s lead? Stay tuned.