The University of Texas at Austin - Civitas Institute

FREE Summer Institute

Financial Responsibility and Economic Education

A 4-day intensive course focusing on foundational concepts in microeconomics and financial literacy, and equipping high school teachers to effectively communicate economic principles.

Dates & Location

June 5-8 @UT Austin


Free. Breakfast, lunch, materials, and lodging stipend for out-of-town registrants provided


20 Hours CPE Credit

Topics & Benefits

Economic Principles

New to teaching economics? Need a refresh? Learn key principles and fun ways to bring them to your class.

Financial Literacy

Financial markets, credit, risk, return, and of course, inflation aren’t just concerns for Wall Street. Learn their impact on you and your students.

Teaching Resources

Our local and national partners have innovative tools and resources you can use all year long to enhance the learning experience.


Meet with local teachers and leading economic educators. Share teaching tips and learn a few more! Join our opening day and farewell day happy hours.


Morgan Ackley
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Richard Alm
Southern Methodist University

Allan Carey
Sphere Program 

W. Michael Cox
Southern Methodist University

Florencia Gabrielle
Emmanuel College

Matt Hill
Marginal Revolution University

Ninos Malek
De Anza College & San Jose State University

Dirk Mateer
University of Texas-Austin

Susanna McConnell
Foundation for Economic Freedom

Boris Nikolaev
Colorado State University

About FREE

The mission of Financial Responsibility and Economic Education (FREE) is to enhance economic understanding and financial literacy across the Lone Star state. The Program is a partnership between the Civitas Institute and UT-Austin’s Department of Economics that provides avenues for civil discussions on topics related to economics and personal finance, delivers professional development for economics teachers throughout Texas, and fosters robust economic inquiry among students. 

  • Charity Joy Acchiardo

    Charity-Joy Acchiardo

    Acchiardo is the director of the Financial Responsibility and Economic Education Program at UT-Austin, Faculty Fellow of the Civitas Institute, and Associate Professor of Instruction in the Department of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the faculty lead for UT’s OnRamps microeconomics course for high school students. She is an Economic Educator Fellow at the Fraser Institute, Canada’s top-ranked think tank, and has served as the Executive Director of the Journal of Economics Teaching. Professor Acchiardo’s passion is sharing her joy about economics with others, and she is a frequent speaker, both domestically and internationally, at workshops for educators and students. 

  • Morgan Ackley

    Morgan Ackley

    Ackley is an economic education advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. In her role, she supports educators across the Eleventh District with professional development trainings and programs and writes curriculum for educators in the areas of economics, finance and college and career education. She supports the economic education team as a content expert in teaching economics and finance and serves as the program manager for the Dallas Fed’s Financial Education Program and Economic Scholars Program Conference for undergraduate students interested in research and careers in economics and finance. Prior to joining the Dallas Fed, Ackley was a high school AP macroeconomics, AP microeconomics, business, marketing and finance educator and college and career counselor. Ackley holds a masters in economics and entrepreneurship education from the University of Delaware. 

  • Richard Alm

    Richard Alm

    Alm serves as writer-in-residence for the Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom.  He was previously the senior economics writer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.  Alm has also worked for The Dallas Morning News, U.S. News & World Report, and The Arizona Republic.  He holds a Master’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and bachelor’s degree in economics from Florida State University.  Alm is co-author with W. Michael Cox of the book Myths of Rich & Poor: Why We’re Better Off Than We Think (1999). His writings have also appeared in D CEO magazine, Investor’s Business Daily, Journal of Private Enterprise and Regulation.

  • Allan Carey photo

    Allan Carey

    Carey is the Director of Sphere Education Initiatives at the Cato Institute where he leads the organization’s efforts to engage grades 5-12 educators, including the annual Sphere Summit, on civic education, civil discourse, and the institutions of civic culture. Prior to his time at the Cato Institute, Allan served as the Director of Education for the Charles Koch Institute, managing the organization’s suite of educational programs for early career professionals, led educational programming for a network of 1500 employees, and managed the Institute’s faculty. Allan holds a BA in political science, history, and philosophy from Ashland University and an MA in politics from the University of Dallas. He lives in Arlington, VA with his wife and son.

  • W. Michael Cox photo

    W. Michael Cox

    Cox serves as Executive in Residence at the Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom. He is formerly Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, where he served for 25 years advising the President on monetary and other economic policies. Cox is widely published in the nation’s leading business press, Fed publications and academic journals.  He is the author of numerous op ed articles for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Financial Times, and Investor’s Business Daily; and his work has appeared in virtually every major newspaper and magazine worldwide. He has contributed to a number of public policy issues, and his research is frequently designated as required reading for Congress.

The media rely on Dr. Cox’s ability to make plain sense out of difficult economic issues.  He is a frequent guest on national radio, television and Internet programs, including ABC’s John Stossel program, CNN, Fox News, ReasonTV, Voice of America, National Public Radio and BizRadio.

Cox is President and CEO of W. Michael Cox and Associates, LLP, a Dallas-based private consulting group.  He lives in Dallas with his wife Maria and daughter McKenna.

  • Florencia Gabriele photo

    Florencia Gabriele

    Dr. Florencia Gabriele is an award-winning educator with a Ph.D. and M.A. from Northeastern University, an M.A. in International Economics and Finance from Brandeis University, and a B.A. in Economics and Management from Emmanuel College. Dr. Gabriele is a highly sought-after professor and consultant who has taught at the undergraduate and graduate level, presented at conferences and hosted workshops on three continents. She is the recipient of the first prize of the Best in Class award, given by the National Economics Teaching Association.  Her expertise in pedagogical practices and the integration of technology in the classroom distinguishes her as a highly sought-after educator and consultant. 

  • Matt Hill photo

    Matt Hill

    Hill is a curriculum designer for MRU. Matt received his PhD in 2012 and since then he has been trying to get students excited about economics by teaching at a variety of universities (UCLA, Loyola Marymount, USC). He joined MRU in 2022 to bring that excitement to even more students.

  • Ninos P. Malek photo

    Ninos P. Malek

    Malek is a Professor of Economics at De Anza College (Cupertino, California) and an Economics Lecturer at San Jose State University. He also taught Economics and Advanced Placement Economics at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, California for fourteen years. Dr. Malek has been recognized for his teaching excellence at both the high school and college level. He placed second in the 2008 international Economics Communicators Contest in Las Vegas, Nevada sponsored by the Association of Private Enterprise Education. He has been a finalist for Outstanding Lecturer at San Jose State University and he is the 2018-2019 recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award given by the College of Social Sciences at San Jose State University. Dr. Malek leads numerous teacher and student workshops for various organizations across North America.

  • Dirk Mateer photo

    Dirk Mateer

    Mateer is a professor of instruction at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Economics in the Movies, Essentials of Economics, and Principles of Economics. Dirk has been featured in the “Great Teachers in Economics” series and he was also the inaugural winner of the Economic Communicator Contest. While he was at Penn State, he received the George W. Atherton Award, the university’s highest teaching award, and was voted the best overall teacher in the Smeal College of Business. He received the Kenneth Elzinga Distinguished Teaching Award from the Southern Economic Association in 2021.

  • Susanna Pierce McConnell photo

    Susanna Pierce McConnell

    McConnell is a curriculum consultant, Master teacher for the Council of Economics Education and the Foundation for Economic Education, and an AP Economics at Westlake High School. She strives to make teaching and learning meaningful for teachers and students. In her past 15 years in education, she has taught social studies in the US and abroad, participated in Harvard’s Globalizing the Classroom Fellowship, and has traveled with US teachers to schools in Japan and South Africa on two remarkable Study Tours. Susanna founded the Teacher Innovation Academy on her high school campus where she has facilitated PD the past 5 years for 30 educators who strive to share best practices through innovation. She now serves as the Director of the Teacher Innovation Academy at Eanes ISD. Susanna earned degrees in Spanish and International Economics and her Master of Arts in Teaching from Trinity University in San Antonio. Her greatest joys are finding the many connections of economics to the real world, traveling, speaking Spanish, and spending time with her family.

  • Boris N. Nikolaev photo

    Boris N. Nikolaev

    Boris N. Nikolaev, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the College of Business at Colorado State University. His research and teaching are in the field of entrepreneurship where he studies the links between socio-economic institutions, entrepreneurship, and well-being. His writing is regularly featured in premiere entrepreneurship, business, and economic journals, and he has received several teaching and research awards including Emory’s university-wide William H. Fox Award for Emerging Excellence in teaching, the Oxford’s Honors Award for creating an interdisciplinary, inquiry-driven, honors course on the Economics of Happiness, Habicht Early Career Research Award, and EIC Research Excellence Award. Outside of academia, he spends most of his time with his family, travels, takes lots of pictures, plays computer games with his kids, builds stuff, and enjoys every opportunity to be outdoors.