Phyllis Frankfort Perillo


Phyllis Perillo, Founder, President and CEO Emeritus, established W!se in 1998 to improve financial literacy and readiness for college and careers. Perillo developed a personal finance certification for instructors, the award-winning standardized national Financial Literacy Certification Test for high school students, the W!se Institute and the Quality of Life INNOVATIONS research program and competition.

In 1981, she introduced finance as a career focus in high schools through her innovative the Academy of Finance and then created the Academy of Travel & Tourism. These Academies led to her founding the National Academy Foundation in 1989 and in 1993 the first public High School of Economics & Finance. Her career, which began as a high school educator, led to becoming a school-based administrator and then an educational and curriculum specialist.

Perillo holds a B.A. and M.A. from New York University and a Certificate in Management from Yale University. She serves on advisory boards, scholarship committees, has been recognized with awards and by the media and in national publications for her work in education and is a Board Member of the Columbus Citizens Foundation.



Established W!se and integrated the earlier initiatives, Quality of Life INNOVATIONS and the W!se Institute, created by CEO Perillo.


Created our flagship Financial Literacy Certification program for high school students.


Built the Library and Technology Center, a state-of-the-art library for the High School of Economics & Finance in New York City.


Helped the Delegation of the European Union to the U.S. launch the Euro Challenge and became its national coordinator, now in 15 states.


Offered our Financial Literacy Certification program outside New York State; the program is now offered in 48 states.


Created MoneyW!SE, designed to serve the personal finance needs of at-risk adults, primarily survivors of domestic violence.


Launched a Certification exam for personal finance instructors; this exam is now administered in 35 states.


Created the 100 Best W!se High Schools Teaching Personal Finance, the first annual ranking of its type in the country.


Created EGE (Engineered Green Economics), a STEM program for high school students to develop their knowledge about economic sustainability.

Building Capacity

W!se is a national partner of the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy and, since 2003, we have managed the New York Financial Literacy Coalition, the New York State Jump$tart affiliate. The Coalition’s goal is to promote and advocate for K-12 financial education.