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Teens Call for More Personal Finance Education to Bridge Economic Opportunity Gap in America

CNBC's Carmen Reinicke details more on the CNBC and Junior Achievement Virtual Summit for a more Equitable and Just Tomorrow

U.S. teenagers are very aware that they aren’t being taught financial literacy in school – and they’re asking questions.

Understanding how to navigate the U.S. financial system is important, and today’s teenagers see an opportunity gap – 61% believe people are paid less based on race, ethnicity and gender, and 69% said people have a harder time getting financial support to start a business due to the same characteristics, according to the Junior Achievement Teens and Economic Opportunity Survey released Monday.

The survey was conducted by Engine Insights online between Nov. 17 and 22 and asked 1,004 teens ages 13 to 17 about diversity, equity and inclusion.

In addition, 45% of teenagers surveyed said that education was the top way to address economic opportunity, but many aren’t getting solid information about personal finance at school.

“Why do students have to learn so many things in math that they can never apply to the real world? Instead, shouldn’t we be learning more things that focus on financial literacy?” said Kallin Marquez, 13, an 8th grader at Diamond Canyon Middle School in Anthem, Arizona, during Tuesday’s CNBC and Junior Achievement Virtual Summit for a more Equitable and Just Tomorrow.

Only six states in the country require high school students to take at least one semester-long personal finance class before graduation, according to Next Gen Personal Finance’s 2019-2020 progress report, and 15 more have personal finance in another course. The remaining states – more than half of the U.S. -- don’t require students to have any personal finance education before graduating.

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