DISTINGUISHED LEADER IN EDUCATION 2014
Joyce B. Cowin
Rolls Royce of Financial Literacy
Joyce B. Cowin, an alumna and long-time Trustee of Teachers College, has given the College a gift to create an innovative and unique professional development program for New York City public school teachers that will address the critical need for high-impact financial literacy in students in grades 9-12.
“Every person past the ninth grade should have knowledge of money—how to finance a college education, how to balance a checkbook, how to ensure that expenses don’t exceed income, how to monitor a credit card and interest, how to shop for clothes and food, and how much to pay for rent and what a mortgage is,” Cowin said. “When the market collapsed in 2008, so many wonderful, hardworking people who had saved money throughout their lives were snookered about sub-prime mortgages, and they lost everything. We need to educate the next generation to ensure this never happens again.”
A partnership among Teachers College, the New York City Department of Education and the nonprofit Working In Support of Education (W!SE) launched The Cowin Financial Literacy Project in Fall 2012, with the first workshops for teachers from select New York City schools in Summer 2013. Teachers College alumna Dr. Pola Rosen has been a consultant and collaborated on this important endeavor. New York State Education Commissioner, John King, also has fully endorsed the program. The program is now expanding to other cities.
“This collaboration is a wonderful example of partnership between the public and private sectors, with the goal of strengthening New York City public school students’ skills in an important field,” Dennis M. Walcott, New York City Schools Chancellor, wrote to Cowin. “Financial literacy is necessary for our students’ success in the 21st century.”
No central financial education resource for teacher professional development currently exists in New York City. The Cowin Financial Literacy Project distinguishes itself from the more than 800 other financial literacy curricula that have previously been developed in the United States by addressing this critical need.
The Cowin Financial Literacy Project created an academic curriculum, and also “focused on helping teachers to integrate important concepts about finance into courses that they are already teaching, such as World or U.S. History,” said the project’s director, Anand R. Marri, Associate Professor of Social Studies & Education at Teachers College.
Joyce Cowin is a Trustee of the Youth Counseling League, the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS) and the Child Development Center, where she previously served as President of the Board. She is a Trustee of the American Museum of Folk Art, the primary sponsor of the Folk Art branch at Lincoln Center, a member of the The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation , as well as Chairman of the Committee on Education. At JBFCS, she started special programs of Art Therapy for disturbed teenagers who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally. Cowin also is a life member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Cowin is a Smith College alumna and earned her master’s degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College. She chaired the College’s Alumni Council and served as its liaison to the Board of Trustees for 30 years, and has also served for more than 30 years on the Board itself. With her late mother, Sylvia Berger, she funded the creation of TC’s Cowin Conference Center. Cowin also is the founding funder of TC-affiliated Heritage School, an arts-themed public high school in East Harlem.
Cowin has actively supported Manhattanville College, where she has funded a fall lecture and an art room at the college’s museum, as well as a spring art trip, in honor of her late father, Arthur Berger. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Folk Art Museum in New York City and has served for more than 50 years as a Trustee of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, which honored her.
Cowin serves on the board of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and has a longstanding involvement with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.#