by Eric Stearley
In March of this year, a company named Banzai contacted Beacon Credit Union about a partnership opportunity to aid in students’ understanding of finances.
“Most, if not all, states have financial literacy built into their education system curriculum,” said Banzai’s Communications and Media Specialist Kevin Peterson. “The problem is that, with the tight budgets schools face, it’s hard for teachers to have the proper materials for teaching finance to their students.”
Banzai is a financial literacy program for junior high and high school students. It was awarded the “Curriculum of the Year” award by the Institute of Financial Literacy in 2010. The program uses real life situations to teach students about money management. It is the largest program of its kind, used by more than 5,000 schools in all 50 states.
According to Northfield Jr./Sr. High School teacher Ted Bahney, one of the most useful parts of the program is the budgeting tool.
“There is an application to set up little jars of money to use to practice budgeting,” said Bahney. “It gives them an idea of what the real world is like when it comes to managing their money.”
Bahney started using the program this year as part of his eighth grade “Experience College and Careers” class. This class focuses heavily on finance and uses Banzai in conjunction with other programs, such as Junior Achievement Finance, to teach kids about money. The Banzai program itself only takes about three days for the students to complete, which is an advantage when teaching a class like Bahney’s, which only lasts for nine weeks. Bahney particularly likes the tools for teachers, allowing them to monitor scores and progress so they can identify those individuals that are struggling.
“I would definitely recommend this to other teachers to try,” said Bahney. “The kids really got a lot out of it.”
Beacon provides the in-class booklets and online interactive program to schools free of charge. This partnership is not only beneficial to students and teachers, but to Beacon as well.
“Partnering with Banzai has given us the opportunity to interact with the students to provide not only financial knowledge, but also teach them tangible steps they can take in order to achieve their financial goals,” said Beacon Credit Union’s Marketing Coordinator Abigail Chapman.
During the school year, loan officers from Beacon visit schools to talk to students using the program about personal finance and what exactly their business does.
“It’s a great program to get in front of the students, as well as teach them about Beacon and about the difference between banks and credit unions,” said Chapman.
Beacon currently supplies the program to schools in Cass, Huntington, Marshall, Plymouth, Steuben, Dekalb, Miami, Grant, Allen, and Wabash counties.