Financial literacy at kid level

LFMS, SouthEast Bank partner in new project

By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG  christy.armstrong@clevelandbanner.com
Posted 3/9/17

While some kids do not learn financial literacy before adulthood, at least 130 students at Lake Forest Middle School can tell you all about saving, borrowing and other money matters.

That is …

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Financial literacy at kid level

LFMS, SouthEast Bank partner in new project

Posted

While some kids do not learn financial literacy before adulthood, at least 130 students at Lake Forest Middle School can tell you all about saving, borrowing and other money matters.

That is how many students recently completed a web-based financial literacy program called “Vault: Understanding Money” put out by EverFi, Inc. The students were treated to a celebration at their school Wednesday by those who made the program possible.

The Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission and SouthEast Bank, in partnership with EverFi, provided the program to Lake Forest at no cost. This meant the middle schoolers were able to receive financial literacy lessons when they would have otherwise had to wait until high school.

“This is such a great thing for our students,” said Lake Forest teacher Jason Viviano, who led students through the program.

“Starting them out in middle school is so important. With some students having their first experiences with jobs and credit cards and the like in high school, waiting until then can be too late.”

The program offered to sixth through eighth-grade students was equipped with 2.5 hours’ worth of instruction, and was designed to align with many schools’ educational standards. Those who completed “Vault” ended up learning about saving, budgeting, investing, weighing the pros and cons of credit cards and more.

The celebration event allowed students to talk about their experiences, participate in a quiz game to test their knowledge, receive certificates of completion and enjoy a lunch of pizza and cookies.

Several students were selected to represent their peers in the game of true-or-false questions, and the majority of them got every question right. Viviano said most of the students “really embraced” the program, even the youngest among them.

“It was encouraging, and this program really helps them see how money works in the real world,” Viviano said. “They can really get into it, even in the sixth grade.” 

SouthEast Bank has sponsored the use of EverFi financial literacy software at more than 50 high schools in East Tennessee since 2012. However, this is the first time the company has partnered with the state to sponsor a financial literacy program at a middle school.

The Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission, an initiative of state Treasurer David H. Lillard Jr., has long been promoting financial literacy among high school students.

Bill Parker, director of the Commission, explained financial literacy is included in the state educational standards for students in high school. However, a more recent focus of the Commission has been to make sure students are being taught about money at younger ages.

“We want this to be in schools as early as possible,” Parker said. “Even if they are not going out and earning money yet, getting it into the schools early means students are less afraid to go home and talk to their parents about it. It gives a basis for some of those early money conversations.” 

DeWayne Morrow, city president for SouthEast Bank, echoed the importance of students learning about money from an early age.

Morrow pointed out that the children in school today are tomorrow’s leaders, and it is a matter of making sure those future leaders are well-prepared.

“I am happy that Bradley County schools are looking at bringing financial literacy to students at a young age,” Morrow said. “A positive trend we’ve been seeing is that our young people tend to be more informed about their finances than other generations. We hope that trend will continue.” 

He added students being prepared to spend their money well and forgo any life-altering money mistakes will be good for Bradley County — and the state of Tennessee as a whole.

While some people might not think it is a big deal for children to be learning about money before they are even old enough to earn a living, Lake Forest Principal Ritchie Stevenson stressed it is another way to make sure students are prepared for the future.

“Lake Forest is focused on preparing students to be problem-solvers, lifelong learners and productive members of society,” Stevenson said. “Financial knowledge is a foundation for all those characteristics. We are grateful for this partnership with Southeast Bank, which will allow us to provide innovative resources and new opportunities to students in our state.”

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