Log in
Log in


Meet our new Bridge Partner: FoolProofMe

June 17, 2024 12:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


23 years ago, Walter Cronkite and a group of young people created the FoolProof Foundation. The Foundation’s goal: To add the teaching of healthy skepticism and caution to the teaching of financial literacy.

After 23 years, FoolProof remains the only major financial literacy resource in the United States focused on teaching the importance of healthy skepticism and caution.

Why aren’t other major financial literacy resources emphasizing the importance of healthy skepticism and caution?

Because the largest funders of financial literacy resources worldwide are the marketing and debt industries. These industries can’t be expected to develop or promote resources that consistently teach consumers to question the industries’ marketing objectives. 

The marketer’s role is to sell, not tell all sides of the story. In fact, around the world, the definitions of financial literacy never focus on the importance of questioning marketers’ messaging.

Please feel free to search “definitions of financial literacy” and tell us if we are wrong.

Children are damaged if they do not understand that financial literacy does not exist in the absence of healthy skepticism and caution.

Filling the holes in the cheese.

And that’s where FoolProof comes in. We fill the holes in the marketing and debt industry’s financial literacy training.

Teacher working with students at Ariel Community Academy in Chicago

Our middle and high school financial literacy curricula are unique and respected. Last year, 90,000 middle and high school students spent over 510,000 hours on our web-based resources. We feature peer-to-peer teaching. And teachers love us: Nationwide, 78% or teachers who see a FoolProof presentation sign up and use our curricula.

The giant in financial literacy also respects us.

 In April, FoolProof received the Jumpstart Coalition's national “Innovation Award” for our work that “significantly benefited students, consumers, and the financial literacy community at large."

The JumpStart Coalition is composed of 100 national organizations and 51 state coalitions to promote financial literacy.

Five nationally respected leaders accepted the award on our behalf: Sheila Bair, the 19th Chair of the FDIC, Walter Cronkite IV, Neiman Fellows Roberta Baskin and Jim Trengrove, and Washington Post syndicated finance columnist Michelle Singletary. All sit on our boards or strongly endorse FoolProof (pictured above).

An important reality.

Despite FoolProof’s broad reach and support, our opportunity to do dramatic good must start this fall and winter. That’s why we’re talking to you today.

FoolProof tackles the manipulation and safety of young people online.

The web poses a significant threat to the mental and physical safety of children.  

In 1973, kids looked at screens at the age of four. They looked at TV screens. But today kids start looking at screens at the age of four months–and the screens are looking back. New research shows that any significant screen time by itself in the first 18 months of life can lead to significant cognitive damage.

And of course, the amount of time kids spend in front of screens increases as they get older. Nine to twelve-year-olds now spend an average of 4-6 hours online every day. For teens, that number increases to about 8 hours per day.

Just looking can hurt.

Kids simply looking at screens for long periods of time is linked to a host of problems including sleep deprivation, obesity, depression, anxiety, and decreased school performance. But that’s only the beginning of the problem.

About 33% of kids online have experienced some form of cyberbullying. Victims of cyberbullying are twice as likely to attempt suicide as those who don’t experience it.

Kids are increasingly vulnerable to sexual harassment on social media platforms. About 100,000 children per day are subjected to sexual harassment on Facebook and Instagram, according to internal Facebook and Instagram communications. 

And that’s just 2 of the 34 social media platforms that have over 100 million monthly active users.

Even features we all use online without thinking can be more detrimental to young people: The impact of “share” buttons, “likes” and “comment” opportunities trigger chemical reactions in kids similar to the effects of drug use.

It’s a tough world out there to be a kid. Many adults know this and are concerned. But few have the time or understanding to consistently tackle these extraordinarily complex issues.

Middle schools as the battlefront.

Middle school children are primary targets for online manipulation. Middle schoolers are at a developmentally vulnerable stage in life.  At the same time, schools are at a developmentally vulnerable stage in their relationship with the web. Cash-strapped school systems are looking for free and online ways to teach traditional subjects–like math and English.

But here’s an uncomfortable reality. Many of the free resources being offered to schools to teach traditional subjects have been developed by the same businesses that are manipulating kids online. Consider the gaming industry.

The commercial gaming industry tackles teaching math to middle school students.

Under the guise of teaching math, about 90,000 middle schools have relied on a “free” game called Prodigy to teach math. But according to experts, it doesn’t teach math. And it can pose a threat to children’s mental health.

Prodigy uses its classroom access to encourage children to play the game at home, where they and their parents are constantly shamed into paying to play.

More than 24 million primary and middle school students—representing half of all elementary and middle school students in North America—have signed up for Prodigy.

This is precisely why consumer advocates, not marketers, need to be in schools when it comes to addressing online manipulation and safety. States are developing those guidelines right now.

How we propose to address the issue.

FoolProof needs to become the battle HQ to help schools prepare their students to be safer online.

We have the respect of the educational and the consumer community to lead this initiative. We must be at the table in every state when those decisions are made.

The businesses that manipulate children online are already at the table.

Team introducing FoolProofMe to juniors and seniors at New York High School

Our first task: Creating a “National Online Safety Hub” for use by educators.

Effective resources are already available to counter issues of childhood safety and manipulation. But few of these resources have been converted into teachable moments or scaled for a national audience. FoolProof has the ability to develop those teachable moments and scale them. And we will include them in our existing curricula.    

Our initial focus. Middle school teachers and their students.

Working with experts.

FoolProof is increasing its research and resource development in this area. Fairplay for Kids—the leading child advocacy initiative in the online arena—is FoolProof’s key partner in our work.

Dr. Lennette Coleman, FoolProof's President, talking to a group of students


FoolProof currently has preliminary resources that address online manipulation. Starting in October we will begin to incorporate these and other resources from respected experts into our middle school curricula. Starting in January, our goal is to add new resources every month.

Why we need your help.

The enormity of the dangers a child faces online makes any thought of a solution daunting. But here’s the reality. The tidal wave of manipulation aimed at children comes down to a single moment of contact with a single child. We can address that moment and help protect that child, child by child, school by school. 

How you can help. 

Some of FoolProof’s most important achievements have come from people who thought they could not help. You could be one of those people.

What we need now.

We need your help to expand the use of FoolProof’s current financial literacy resources in your city and state. Our new work addressing the safety of children online will be housed in our current middle and high school curricula. To build an audience for our new resources, we need to expand FoolProof’s overall educational reach.

We need contacts.

Help us establish a FoolProof Leadership Council in your state. We need feet-on-the-ground to make a major impact in a city or state. The Leadership Council’s role is to help us have those feet-on-the-ground.

We need funding, of course.

Help us identify funding sources in your state. 

FoolProof is a small foundation with a limited budget. We operate nationally with only 6 full-time team members. Our whole team works remotely. Our boards are volunteer based. We currently have only three team members available to travel the country and meet with educators. Just one of our commercial competitors has 200 full-time staff members.

But when FoolProof has the funding to put feet-on-the-ground, we are recognized as the David against Goliath. Our resources are almost always adopted.  

Does money really do its job when it comes to FoolProof?

It does.

Take Orlando, Florida.

A $25,000 grant from the Fairwinds Foundation allowed FoolProof to be on the ground in Orlando. The result? In one year, over 13,000 high school students completed over 47,000 FoolProof sessions.

Did they learn anything?

They did. The pre- and post-test financial literacy scores based on standardized testing rose from 46--an F grade—to 84%--a B Grade.

Take Oklahoma.

Over the years, 200,000 students in Oklahoma have completed FoolProof’s curricula. Ask us for details.

A legacy FoolProof would like to create with HR73

HR73 and FoolProof have a unique opportunity: Today, in your community, every child on any device is a target for manipulation. FoolProof has the integrity and software capability to help each of those kids protect themselves. Classroom-by-classroom, school-by-school we can empower them to tackle the financial and emotional issues they relentlessly face in today’s web-driven world. 

But to accomplish this, we need a partner with vision, national reach, and integrity.

We’re hoping that partnership can be with HR73 and we hope that partnership can begin with you.

Next steps

First, bookmark this page.

Second, contact us. Simply opening a door for us in one state can change the lives of thousands of children.  

Remar Sutton

FoolProof Co-founder and Team Leader


William Mears

The Manipulation Project Team Leader


Third. Learn more about FoolProof.

 The Walter Cronkite Project drives the vision of FoolProof.         

 Review our middle school curriculum to understand FoolProof’s unique approach to teaching.

Our Kids in Poverty website focuses on economic and emotional inequality.

Fourth. Think about a donation. We would appreciate that!

Want more details? Email us and we’ll send you a footnoted copy of this article.

ClassACT HR ‘73

Copyright ©ClassACT  |  Privacy Policy
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software