Press Release

New York Fed Releases Economist Spotlight Series

February 02, 2021

NEW YORK – The Federal Reserve Bank of New York's economic education team today released the first in its Economist Spotlight Series. The series, which will start with a focus on Black economists, includes worksheets for middle school and high school students.

"We want to give students real-life examples of barrier breakers," said David Erickson, head of the New York Fed's Outreach and Education function. "We also want to give the students an opportunity to think like an economist by sharing details of how the featured economists conducted their work."

This initial spotlight features Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander, the first Black person in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in Economics. The worksheet includes biographical information about Dr. Alexander, who earned her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in 1921. It focuses on how Dr. Alexander used small questions, such as "How much does your family pay for rent?" and "How much does your family spend on socks?" to answer a big question: What was the standard of living like for some of the first Black families who moved to Philadelphia in the Great Migration?

Dr. Alexander's work inspired The Sadie Collective, a group of Black women working now to address the pipeline and pathway challenges for Black women in economics and related fields. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is one of the sponsors of the group's third annual convention this month.

In addition to the worksheet, the New York Fed's economic education team has drafted  worksheets and lesson plans on the flow of money and the economic impact of COVID-19, as well as a series of comic books on the economy. The team also sponsors the High School Fed Challenge, an academic paper competition in which teams of students act as future economists by researching and analyzing an important economic theme. The 2021 High School Fed Challenge will encourage students to research and write about economic inequality.

"Our goal is to help teachers demonstrate to students that economics isn't something dry and distant," Erickson said. "We want to show that it touches everything from the corner bodega to the bills in their parents' pockets."  

Ellen Simon
(347) 978-3036
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