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VIEWPOINT: My Journey to Championing Financial Literacy Education in Delaware

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As a retired optometrist, military medical commander, industry consultant, and state legislator, my life has been guided by a simple principle: solve problems and take action to help others. This guiding ethos led me down varied pathways, from serving in the military to advocating for financial literacy in Delaware schools. It’s a journey that has shaped my perspective and fueled my passion for making a difference in the lives of others.

State Rep. Jeff Hilovsky talks about House Bill 203, which mandates that Delaware public high school students complete a half-credit course in financial literacy for graduation.

Jeffrey Hilovsky

When I was first approached about running for office, I was hesitant. Politics was never something I had considered, but as I watched my grandchildren playing, I realized the importance of advocacy. They have no voice, no vote, and no say in how their future will take shape. It became clear to me that it was up to responsible individuals to stand up for their future and do what’s right, regardless of personal convenience. So, I made the decision to run for office, driven by a desire to create positive change for future generations.

Throughout my life, I’ve always been attuned to the needs of the community and witnessed firsthand the importance of access to quality healthcare and education. But it was during my career as an optometrist that I began to recognize another pressing issue facing our society – the lack of financial literacy among our youth.

Years ago, I noticed a troubling trend among high school students – they lacked basic life skills and financial knowledge. Many struggled to make eye contact or articulate themselves effectively. It was clear that they were ill-equipped to navigate the complexities of adulthood, particularly when it came to managing their finances.

Determined to address this gap, I decided to take action. Drawing on my background in leadership, I developed a comprehensive course focused on personal growth. This includes financial literacy. I approached local schools with a proposal: I, as a volunteer, could help address the challenges they were facing, whether they knew it or not, with their students. I believed I could add value to their lives by providing them with the tools they needed to succeed.

What started as a simple idea soon evolved into a passion project. I became deeply invested in the well-being of these students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many of them came from single-parent households, where financial education was often overlooked amidst the daily struggles of life. I saw an opportunity to make a difference, to empower these students with the knowledge they needed to build a brighter future.

As I continued to teach and mentor these students, I began to see the broader implications of financial illiteracy. It isn’t just about balancing a checkbook or understanding interest rates – it is about empowerment and opportunity. It is about giving these students the confidence to take control of their financial futures and pursue their dreams.

When I was elected to office, I suddenly had a platform to make an even greater impact. That’s why I am proud to sponsor House Bill 203, which mandates that Delaware public high school students, starting with those entering 9th Grade in the 2026-2027 academic year, complete a half-credit course in financial literacy for graduation. This legislation is more than just a bill – it’s a lifeline for our local youth in Delaware. It’s a chance to ensure that every student, regardless of their background, has access to the tools they need to succeed.

Over 90% of Delawareans report financial education as an urgent need. It is not a luxury to be experienced by the few; financial education is a necessity for all. It’s time we prioritize the well-being of our youth and invest in their future. House Bill 203 is just the beginning. Together, we can pave the way for a future where every student has the opportunity to thrive. It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing, and now is the time to act.

State Rep. Jeff Hilovsky serves the 4th District (Oak Orchard, Long Neck, Angola).

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