Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan Discusses Legacy in Financial Education

Led effort to create statewide Financial Education Commission

June 13, 2022 (Little Rock, Ark.) – Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan has always had a passion for financial education. Growing up in southwest Little Rock, Milligan learned from a very early age the importance of hard work and persistence.

“We weren’t poor, but there wasn’t any room, financially, for any extras,” Milligan explained. “I learned the habit of saving money from my uncle. He didn’t have much, but he was always the one people went to when they needed financial help. He’s the one who taught me that saving little by little adds up over time.”

Milligan began his small business at age 28 and over the years expanded it into 17 different states.

“I wouldn’t have been able to have that kind of success had it not been for practicing conservative financial habits in both my personal and professional lives,” he said.

As he considered a run for Treasurer of State, he learned that many treasurers around the country played a substantial role in their states’ financial education efforts.

“The role of Treasurer began to take on an even deeper meaning to me,” he said. “When I was elected in 2014, I was excited to hit the ground running on working toward helping every Arkansan have access to financial education if they need or want it.”

The first effort Milligan made toward financial education was creating the AR Finance AR Future program. This program partnered with schools throughout the state to teach basic financial instruction to 4th-6th graders across Arkansas.

“We utilized an online platform with the help of teachers statewide and were able to reach more than 28,000 students and offer roughly 48,000 hours of learning.”

Another of Milligan’s efforts to promote financial education was bringing a national conference to Arkansas. Through his involvement with the State Financial Officers Foundation – of which he served as National Chair in 2020 – he helped expand the Smart Women Smart Money conference (SWSM) nationwide. This free conference provides attendees financial tools they need to empower themselves to take charge of their financial future.

Milligan continued his financial awareness efforts in 2020 by developing a book-reading initiative. “Educate Your Financial Future” featured several books each month that focused on financial topics and were geared toward students from pre-K through high school.

In 2021, Milligan teamed up with the Central Arkansas Library System and local financial experts to provide a series of free public webinars addressing common financial topics such as budgeting, saving, and balancing a checkbook. That program has expanded and is continuing this year. (More information may be found on the Treasury’s website at www.artreasury.gov.)

“As the years went by, I started to notice a common theme among leaders in the state and that was the fact that we must have a financially-knowledgeable population to: 1) help people get out of poverty and 2) help market our state and its workforce to potential employers looking to relocate here,” Milligan said.

In response, Milligan worked with Sen. Missy Irvin and Rep. Bruce Cozart on Act 1025 of 2021 creating the Arkansas Financial Education Commission. Its mission is to provide a unified effort to improve financial awareness throughout the state.

“This Commission, which I chair, has already provided valuable insight upon which we can build a stronger foundation for our state,” Milligan said. “I can’t wait to get started on making financial education more attainable for all Arkansans and watch how we’re able to positively impact lives for generations to come.”

To watch a video release about Treasurer Milligan’s accomplishments toward statewide financial education, click here.

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Dennis Milligan was elected Treasurer of State in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. The State Treasury is responsible for overseeing the state’s $6 billion portfolio. Since taking office in 2015, Milligan has receipted the state more than $474 million in investment returns and has grown the investment portfolio’s receipts to record highs. www.artreasury.gov.