Skip to main content

Karen Holden advises Sesame Street financial education initiative

May 2, 2011

Karen Holden, UW–Madison Center for Financial Security affiliate and professor emerita of consumer science in the School of Human Ecology, served as an adviser on the recently launched Sesame Street financial education initiative “For Me, for You, for Later: First Steps to Spending, Sharing, and Saving.”

Karen Holden, professor emerita of consumer science.

The project was developed by Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind Sesame Street, partnering with PNC Bank and PNC Grow Up Great, a 10-year $100 million investment to help young children prepare for success in school and life. The bilingual (English and Spanish), research-based, multimedia outreach initiative establishes a foundation for financial education for all young children between the ages of 3 to 5.

Holden was one of six advisers who first met in Pittsburgh in April 2010 to discuss “what were the fundamental lessons that could be and should be taught to preschool children, especially from diverse families and communities.”

The advisers reviewed drafts of the script, as well as drafts of educational materials including the parent-caregiver guides to be released with the DVD. Holden had a chance to be on the set to watch one day of filming, meet puppets and their puppeteers, as well as some Sesame Street humans.

“This has been an exciting project for me,” Holden says, who is also a professor at UW–Madison’s Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs. “It came about because of my work with Chuck Kalish on pre-school financial education and our thinking about the relationship between children’s cognitive development and what financial literacy concepts should be taught and when to children.”

Kalish is a professor in the UW–Madison Department of Educational Psychology. That work was funded by a grant from National Credit Union Foundation, under the sponsorship of the Credit Union National Association, Inc..

“For Me, for You, for Later: First Steps to Spending, Sharing, and Saving” leverages the power of the beloved Sesame Street characters to provide families with the information they need to emphasize the financial learning opportunities that occur during every day routines and experiences. The materials highlight the basic concepts of making choices and the value of people, things, and money, that can lead young children towards a solid understanding of saving, spending, and sharing.

The bilingual (English/Spanish) outreach kit includes an original Sesame Street DVD, a parent/caregiver guide and a children’s activity book highlighting these financial basics. All materials will be available for free at PNC Bank branches,, and Additional materials are available online, including an educator’s guide and an interactive game featuring Cookie Monster.