For more than a decade, Dennis Dice, founder of the NavPoint Institute for Financial Literacy, has been devoted to helping college students across the United States develop a strong financial literacy foundation.
NavPoint developed an 8-unit financial literacy training course called "Student Financial Lab." Since its launch in 2006, it has helped over 20,000 first-year college students learn the basics of personal finance. The interactive course helps college freshmen improve their financial decision-making skills. "Establishing good habits now," Dice says, "helps to influence financial habits after the college years."
Student Financial Lab features four modules and 223 lessons, plus an interactive budgeting and counseling center. The program also features over 500 course resources including a Financial Check-Up Tool, which allows participants to test their financial knowledge and access specific workshops that will help them improve in areas where they are struggling.
The program is based on NavPoint Institute's own national financial literacy standards. The institute created these standards using national standards from the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy – and those of numerous states and non-profits – as a starting point.
One of Dice's goals on behalf of the NavPoint institute is to support the Federal National Strategy for Financial Literacy. He is also working to support President Barack Obama's American Graduation Initiative and the goal set for community colleges in February 2009 – an additional 5 million community college graduates by 2020, including students who earn certificates and associate degrees or who continue on to graduate from four-year colleges and universities.
"Helping first-year students increase their financial knowledge will help schools increase student retention," says Dice.
Along these lines, he helped to initiate a collaboration between NavPoint Institute and the American Association of Community Colleges to offer the institute's free financial literacy training course to over 1,200 colleges in the United States.
Dice's entry into the field of financial literacy came 15 years ago when he began a career as a financial counselor for low- to middle-income people and families. "It is satisfying to help people overcome their difficulties – I've counseled over 5,000 people and families about their finances," he says.
His role at NavPoint Institute allows him to offer similar financial help to consumers and students – on a much larger scale. In addition to its program for college students, the institute has helped over 300,000 consumers gain knowledge about money management. Those consumers include working adults, military personnel, seniors and others. Despite the program's large reach today, Dice remains hands-on in overseeing implementation and working with administrators who utilize the program in their schools.
The success of Student Financial Lab may be in the numbers, but it's also clearly due to Dice's "passion for helping college students." As individuals making financial decisions for the first time, they are ideal students of personal finance. And with NavPoint's help, the good habits students establish now are likely to serve them throughout their lives.
Practical Money Skills commends Dennis Dice for his efforts and commitment to financial literacy at NavPoint Institute for Financial Literacy.