Beloit Banks on a New Financial Course
When it comes to teaching teens financial skills, Beloit has a huge interest rate.
Last year marked the start of our financial fundamentals program, Money Sense, in Beloit. Leaders from four community financial institutions dove into volunteering opportunities at Beloit Memorial High School and through a teen summer program at Beloit College. Within a few months, 14 volunteers had led more than 270 students through Money Sense. Among the entire B.M.H.S. population (pictured below at 2015 homecoming), 1 out of 7 students participated in Money Sense in that first year alone, which was one of the biggest shows of participation in financial literacy by a new community that our organization has ever experienced.
It wasn’t just quantity: Beloit students, on average, had a 25% improvement in their financial capability comprehension tests after the program. Amy Snyder, first-time volunteer and AVP/branch manager at First National Bank and Trust in Beloit, said she marveled at the way students quickly understood the real-world applicability to what they were learning.
“I remember during the discussion of credit cards, one young man related that he wanted to learn about them so he doesn’t get in trouble with them like his parents had. That really sends the message of how important financial literacy education is,” she said.
Volunteers included: Snyder, Jessica Hernandez, Amanda McMahon, Nakia Nelson, Cathy Henderson, Ashlee Malterer and Kaitlyn Marshall (First National Bank and Trust); Joshua Welch (Blackhawk Community Credit Union); Derek Hahn, John Wong, Karen McKee and Branden Jackson (BMO Harris Bank); and Sarah Fegre and Jessica Price (First Community Credit Union).
Welch, an outbound sales consultant with Blackhawk, said leading a classroom of high schoolers was something he had always wanted to do. He said the students had fun and were full of questions, and he left with the impression that the financial lessons were coming at a perfect time in these teens’ lives.
“Most of us only know what our parents teach us so who is to say this is right or wrong? Giving advice can help break cycles and reward surrounding family members, friends, etcetera,” Welch said, later adding, “
Snyder said the high school lessons echoed skills and advice shared with customers during her day job at First National Bank and Trust.
“I have always thought that financial literacy is important no matter the person’s age. I believe it should be required curriculum for all students from elementary through high school since it is such an important life skill,” she said.
Educators who participated in the program included Tony “Mr. C” Capoziello and Crystal Hendrix at B.M.H.S., and, during the summer, Regina Hendrix at the “Help Yourself” program through Beloit College.
Capoziello gave volunteers top survey marks for what they shared with students. From an educator’s perspective, he wrote “it was … relevant, practical and easy to deliver within the time constraints.”
For educators and volunteers interested in financial literacy programming in Beloit, Janesville and elsewhere in Rock County, contact Rachel Kauer, Money Sense program manager: email@example.com or (414) 273-8101