Volunteer Spotlight: Anthony Fabris and Stacy Scheffer
Five years ago, Anthony and Stacy began volunteering as a team for SecureFutures. In between preparing for their wedding in September and enjoying their new dog Murphy, they continue to give of their time to help teens become financially capable. Learn why they’re so passionate about financial literacy and the SecureFutures mission.
Why do you believe it is important for teens to be empowered with financial education?
Financial literacy is critical to making good decisions about your future. As teenagers begin to earn income, they are faced with choices on how to manage money. A lack of understanding of the long-term impact of decisions like starting a savings account, responsibly opening a credit card or understanding how to safely invest in the market can start teens on a path toward financial distress.
Teaching others about how to budget, save and invest is the reason we got involved in SecureFutures. The emphasis growing up always seemed to be get a job. While earning income is a great start, it is only the first step toward financial independence. Understanding and feeling confident with tools to support and maintain financial independence is key to helping others live the lives they want.
How did you become involved with SecureFutures?
Cohen & Company (where Anthony currently works) has been a sponsor of SecureFutures since he started with the firm. When he heard about their mission, it combined his passion for financial planning with a desire to give back to the community. Stacy came across SecureFutures around the same time through an online search for organizations to get involved with after graduation from Marquette and felt drawn to its mission.
What drew you to the SecureFutures mission? What makes us unique?
Graduating with accounting and finance degrees, we’ve both spent a lot of time learning tools to make better financial decisions. Having this knowledge of personal finance, we felt there is a responsibility to help others make better financial decisions. High school students are at a critical point in their lives as they begin to think about life-long decisions like college, owning a car, and living independently.
SecureFutures brings financial literacy topics to this population of teens becoming adults in our community. The curriculum is focused towards real-life decisions and focuses on important topics that are essential to becoming financially independent.
What has it been like partnering together as volunteers? What makes you a good team?
We partnered as classroom volunteers soon after we started dating nearly 5 years ago. We felt it was a great way to apply our strengths coming from a business background to our desire to help the community. We both have areas of the curriculum we find most interesting and have learned to use that to our advantage in presentations. We also feel we serve as a good check on each other to balance diving into topics at just the right level to keep students engaged but not overwhelmed.
What has been the most meaningful part of volunteering?
The most meaningful part of volunteering has been seeing students retain information between the first few lessons and the time the program ends and hearing their examples of how they’ve applied topics we’ve discussed in their everyday lives. It is always great to read their reviews after the presentations as well to see what worked best and what we can improve next time.
Do you have any stories to share about particularly memorable experiences you’ve had in the classroom?
We volunteered for a 6 week after-school program at the General Mitchell Library last spring and we were so grateful for the relationship and engagement we were able to build with the students over our time there. We dove into some more advanced discussions such as investing by the end of our program and it was so great to see how passionate they were and their desire to learn.
One student in particular came up to us after one of the last presentations and told us about how he had gone with his mom the weekend before to open his first savings account. Better yet, he had already mapped out a budget to start saving for his prom with money from his job at the mall. It really felt great he took the initiative to implement some ideas we had discussed in our time together.
What would you say to people who might be considering volunteering with SecureFutures?
You don’t have to be a financial professional to get involved! Financial literacy can seem like a tough curriculum but it is important for students to gain perspective from adults with real experiences. The best classroom lessons we have had started with real-life examples of owning a credit card, buying/leasing a car, deciding between colleges or creating a budget. These are basic life skills that we all mastered or failed. Students connect with struggles from all different adults and lessons learned.
SecureFutures does an excellent job of training volunteers and answering ANY questions you may have. They even offer volunteering with a partner (like us!) if you’re concerned. Volunteering just one time helps you appreciate how critical these lessons are for teens. They are truly engaged in the lessons because it is directly applicable to decisions they will need to make in the next 5 years (and having candy to encourage participation helps as well!). We can’t say enough about how positive our experience has been.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A lot of us learned money management from a family member or friend. We can’t rely on this to teach our youth financial literacy. Getting out into a classroom and teaching a lesson is a great way to reach those who don’t have personal mentoring on these topics. SecureFutures makes it easy to get in front of students and help shape their financial future. Thank you to SecureFutures for everything you’ve done to help bring financial literacy to Wisconsin!