From the Field – The Edison K-8 School, Boston, MA

Over Boston Public School’s February vacation week, 24, 3rd & 4th grade Edison students were working hard to “sharpen the saw” using Vault through First Republic Bank’s sponsorship. Although it was a short 4-day week, the students were able to login and work on the modules while they were in school, something they looked forward to doing before going home each day. On the last day of vacation, First Republic representative Heather Lombardo and Rhyshonda Singletary visited the class with me to honor their hard work and celebrate the students success with Vault. Although only 5 students actually became certified, the rest of the class was just one or two modules away. The class was so excited to show us what they learned through a fun game of Jeopardy that we played with Vault questions. Each students was able to leave February vacation’s “Acceleration Academy” week with a First Republic piggy bank, and some even with a certificate.

School Manager: Maraget Bane
Teacher: Jarod Johnson
School:The Edison K-8 School, Boston Public Schools
City: Boston, MA
Course: Vault

From the Field – H.M. King High School, Kingsville, TX

Ms. Carrillo’s seniors have been using the EverFi course this year and we had the pleasure of bringing in a member of 1st Community Bank of Corpus Christi to host a certification ceremony with the students. Beyond receiving the certificates, the students dominated financial literacy Jeopardy and shared incredibly thoughtful reflections and posed meaningful questions about their own financial wellness and future. It was so amazing to hear the students’ reflections and to hear from Ms. Carrillo about the impact the course has had on this group of students as well as her past classes who have since graduated.

School Managers: Dakota Rubin & Heather Witcher
Teacher: Diana Carrillo
School: H.M. King High School in Kingsville ISD
City: Kingsville, TX
Course: EverFi

Interview with Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of the NEA Foundation

We recently sat down with Harriet Sanford to hear about her impressive 40-year career in education, and her current work supporting public teachers and students through the NEA Foundation. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Harriet Sanford

Why did you go into education? 

I began my career – 40 years ago (sigh!) — as a public school teacher at Arbor Hill Elementary School, in Albany, NY, just blocks away from where I spent the first seven years of my life. Although I did not remain in the classroom for many years, my commitment to improving lives and underserved communities for the better never faltered. It has been a privilege to work in education philanthropy for the last 12 years, but make no mistake, it is educators who go to work in the trenches every day, not funders.

Neither my mother nor father completed their educations. Nonetheless, they were adamant that their children take advantage of all of the opportunities that a public education offers — both in and out of school time. They fully expected their children to pursue higher education and ensured that we could immerse ourselves in our studies, service, sports, and more. With many communities, schools and families just like mine facing insufficient resources, my work and the Foundation’s work is to do all that we can to ensure that every student has access to a high-quality education and finds his or her own joy in learning.

What is the NEA Foundation and what support does it give teachers?
The NEA Foundation is an independent, 501(C)3 public charity, created, in 1969 by educators for educators, to improve public education for all students. Highlights of support for teachers include:

  • Our Grants to Educators, distributed three times each year, fund educators’ creative and innovative classroom projects designed to prepare students for college, work, and life. Last year, our grants empowered more than 6,000 educators, reaching more than 186,000 students.
  • Our annual Awards for Teaching Excellence honor the challenging but crucial work that public school educators do every day. We reward outstanding educators who are shining examples of the millions of people who work tirelessly in America’s public schools, in service of students, but seldom hear how much we appreciate them.
  • Our Global Learning Fellowship, leads 30 educators along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and other significant historical and cultural sites in Peru, as part of a year-long, cohort-based, professional development program. Participating educators return from their travels with fresh knowledge, skills and perspective needed to teach in the global age, and better equipped to deliver globally focused curriculum in their home schools and communities. Fellows also contribute to a growing, freely accessible, online collection of 195 lesson plans, accessed by peer teachers around the country more than 4,000 times.
  • We regularly produce issue briefs sharing the Foundation’s and our partners’ lessons learned on a wide range of topics and disseminating actionable information that helps educators overcome challenges to teaching and learning.

How do EverFi & the NEA Foundation work together?

The NEA Foundation and EverFi work together to increase educator and student access to technology and digital learning tools. We collectively strive to support critical skill areas that will enhance students’ ultimate academic and life success.

The partnerships currently supports NEA school districts across the country, providing free access to EverFi’s digital resources and accompanying professional development. Districts that have participated include Springfield, MA; Lee County, FL; and Prince George’s County, MD. Our partnership is leading us to work on more programming in STEM and to develop initiatives in social and emotional learning.

What encouragement would you give teachers who are working to integrate critical skills education into their classrooms?

My key piece of advice to educators, no matter what or whom they teach, is almost always the same: It takes “fierce” to battle your own self-doubt when you are the only one who seems to know that “good enough” is just not good enough for your students. Excellence is what you are after, and you are not going to let anything or anyone stand between your students and excellence. Bring “fierce” to the table every time. Be gentle, kind and caring with your students, but be fierce about their education.

 

Thanks to Harriet for giving us a glimpse into the important work she and the Foundation are doing to support public school education! If you’re interested in learning more about EverFi or our work with the NEA Foundation, reach out to Steve Sandak at steve@everfi.com.

Marketing to Millennials: What Not to Do

As the millennial generation ages into more prominent jobs and accumulates greater wealth, banks and credit unions are quickly realizing they need to improve their financial marketing strategy to attract this elusive demographic. But despite the fact that this generation seems to be online at all times, it takes more than a fancy website to make a connection. While many financial institutions have been online for years, attracting millennials requires a full understanding of this demographic to drive impact.

Millennials learn and bank differently than previous generations. Learn how your financial institution can attract this elusive demographic.

Millennials learn and bank differently than previous generations. Learn how your financial institution can attract this elusive demographic.

Here are two of the most common financial marketing mistakes that banks and credit unions make targeting millennials:

  • Neglecting Mobile

Always on-the-go, millennials today are more likely to be surfing the Web on a device than they are on a computer. Yet many financial institutions still neglect to ensure that their websites and marketing materials are optimized for mobile devices. When designing anything that will live online, from website menus to online programs, ensure that your designs are compatible with mobile devices of all sizes—and will work in different browser types (including Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and IE). Better yet, consider designing for mobile from the start.

  • Overly Long or Text-based Content

Millennials are fast-moving multitaskers. They want to maximize the “downtime” in the cracks and crevices as they move through their daily life: sitting on the metro, waiting for a friend at a bar, or even in the final moments before drifting off to sleep. Help them do that my creating content that is short and to-the-point. For best results, consider infographics, videos, and short, crisp articles that relay maximum information.

How To Improve Your Millennial Marketing Strategy

Banks and credit unions that want to connect with the millennial generation would be wise to meet them where they are—which, today, is online as they’re out and about. But it has to be done right. For more tips on how to avoid marketing pitfalls, check out our mini-guide

 

Digital Learning: Preparation for Tomorrow

Just over a century ago, education theorist John Dewey cautioned that “if we teach today’s students as we taught them yesterday, we rob them of tomorrow.” At that point, industrialization was reorganizing cities, rural communities, and the role and realities of work. To prepare students for their futures, it made perfect sense that schooling should be reorganized as well.

Dewey’s observation continues to resonate nearly a century later. What engaged students five years ago is no longer sufficient to prepare them for success. Technology has changed the flow of information and the dynamics of community, with people spending an average of 4 hours per day on their mobile devices1. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that digital natives, the 15- to 24-year-old population with 5 or more years of online experience, are spending more than 8 hours per day connected to media2.

With 80% of middle-skill jobs now requiring technical skills3, preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s world will require great imagination and effort. Digital curriculum can be a powerful corrective force that reorganizes learning to meet students where they are and, more importantly, where they need to be. As teachers, schools, and districts become more sophisticated in their selection and use of digital learning tools, it is paramount curriculum and instructional designers continue to drive high quality, innovative approaches to learning.

As Christy Cheek, CTE Director for Buncombe County Schools in North Carolina suggests, “students today thrive through a combination of digital learning and face to face interaction. Being able to personalize a student’s education through digital learning brings numerous benefits and makes subject matter easier to understand and comprehend since students today are more comfortable with this platform.”

As with all new resources, the benefits are not always immediately realized. According to The Gates Foundation’s most recent “Teachers Know Best” survey, while 93 percent of teachers reported regularly using some form of digital tool to guide instruction, only 58 percent of teachers across all subjects found digital tools effective4. This gap between abundant use and effective use is what informs our work every day.

At EverFi, we have dedicated over 10 years towards understanding what makes digital resources effective and uniquely suited to teach meaningful skills. Every curriculum we develop, whether it’s a course on social-emotional learning or STEM literacy and career exploration, champions five core pillars:

  • Agency and Autonomy — Learning activities are personally meaningful and suited to individual interests.
  • Active Participation — The learner is fully involved in the learning experience, constructing meaning for herself.
  • Real-world Connections — Learning experience draws from realistic scenarios and applications.
  • Evidence-based Content — Pedagogy and instructional approach is grounded in research and best practice.
  • Ongoing Feedback — Instruction is both direct and just-in-time as students perform learning tasks.

EverFi’s pillars for digital learning are connected to a deeper belief that teaching and learning in the 21st century must not stop at traditional core academic skills. While Literacy and Math will always be important, we must educate the whole child5. According to Stefanie Wager of the Iowa Department of Education, we should be “thinking about a well-rounded education for all students and using digital learning to teach collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking in order to best meet the needs of students.”

Digital Learning is not a replacement for quality in-person instruction. Instead, it is a booster. This is why, in our own survey of more than 2,500 teachers last academic year, we found that:

  • 88% strongly felt that EverFi’s digital course content enhanced material they were teaching in the classroom.
  • 65% strongly felt that EverFi’s digital course content covered content that their students would not have otherwise seen.
  • 75% strongly believed their students were engaged in EverFi’s digital course content.

Good digital curriculum can bring clarity to difficult-to-teach concepts by representing them in multiple forms, increase engagement by using the same gamification mechanics that are so prevalent in students’ lives outside the classroom, and transform static topics into personally meaningful takeaways. Digital learning can take students further, faster, and in directions that are free for them to choose.

At EverFi, we look forward to the day when digital learning is both commonplace and universally effective. Until then, we will continue to develop courses that prepare students for the world of tomorrow.

Author:

Zach Wagner
EverFi Vice President
K-12 Content and Product Development

 

Sources:

1http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/informate-report-social-media-smartphone-use/
2Rideout, Victoria J., Ulla G. Foehr, and Donald F. Roberts. “Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-to 18-Year-Olds.” Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (2010).
3http://burning-glass.com/research/digital-skills-gap/
4Teachers Know Best: What Educators Want from Instructional Tools 2.0, July 2016.
5Noddings, Nel. “What does it mean to educate the whole child?.” Educational leadership 63.1 (2005): 8.

 

 

Vault Helped Me Learn about Needs vs. Wants

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Chicago student Khloe W who shares how the skills and knowledge she gained from Vault – Understanding Money™  will help her reach her goal of graduating from college and earning her doctorate. Congrats to Khloe for being one of our scholarship recipients!

Khloe W

Student: Khloe W
Teacher: Linsey Rose
School: STEM Magnet Academy
State: Illinois
Sponsor: MassMutual Foundation

Imagine standing on a tall podium, thanking your family for supporting you from undergraduate to doctorate! That is how I want to be. There are many things that this EverFi Vault has taught me that will help me accomplish [my goals]. One big accomplishment that I want to do when I grow up is go to college, and be very successful. College is very important to me because I love getting an education and learning new things. Seeing my brothers and sisters go through college, I know it can be stressful thinking about failing many times. I also know that college costs a lot. EverFi Vault has prepared me to become a successful and responsible college student through the modules.

One important thing that Vault has taught me is about the different institutions that take care of money like brokerage firms, banks and credit unions. This is important to know when I go to college because I will need a bank account, since I will be away from my parents and have my own responsibilities. Also, I will need to know about these different parts because I will need to open up savings accounts for emergencies and pay bills to help my parents with the college funds.

Knowing that college is a lot of money, Vault has also taught me to be responsible and careful with the people I share my financial information with. EverFi says that financial information is very imperative and a key to success to life. If others can get access to it, things can do bad. For example, people can hack into your account and take your name, and spend your money, and that is not good. So, we have to be mindful about the information we share to others about our financial purposes. This is important to me and my dream to go to college because the world is cruel, and people can take advantage, be manipulative, and this can be food for thought as I continue to try to accomplish my dream.

One last thing that is very important and can affect my dream is how I spend and save my money. In college, I’ve heard many stories about the students being “broke”, and having no money to live off of, or not enough to buy necessities. I do not want this to happen to me and the way I can do that is to manage my money correctly. I will make a budget and make sure to document/establish my needs and wants. This is important because some people will focus on what they want to buy to fit in and do not focus on what they need to survive or succeed. Also, I can do this by getting a debit card. EverFi Vault has taught me the difference between the two [debit cards and credit cards] and for this situation a debit card is the best decision. Knowing that I can track my balance, see transactions and transfer/send money, this can help me better manage my money and what I spend rather than using cash.

In conclusion, this is how EverFi is helping me to with accomplish my dream to go to college. Vault is a very fun and interactive game that helped me better understand real problems in the real world.

SOS: Why Your Financial Marketing Strategy Needs Saving

The internet is awash in articles about digital marketing, but many banks and credit unions are still not taking full advantage of technology to connect with customers and prospects. But today, if you are not leveraging technology to make your services as accessible as possible, you’re losing out to the competition. Let’s take a look at three important points on why financial institutions need to incorporate technology into their financial marketing strategy:

93 percent of 13-year olds check social media at least once daily. Learn why financial institutions need to incorporate digital into their financial marketing strategy.

93 percent of 13-year olds check social media at least once daily. Learn why financial institutions need to incorporate digital into their financial marketing strategy.

Consumption of technology is only increasing over time

While the millennial generation started the trend for technology usage, the following generations are rapidly outpacing them. According to a recent report, the average tween spends nine hours a day on an electronic device, and another study found that 93 percent of 13-year olds check social media at least once daily. Financial institutions that want to attract the newer generations need to be maximizing technology now.

New players are entering the financial playing field

Technology has allowed non-traditional entities to compete in the financial space. These new players often have no actual brick-and-mortar branch—instead, they offer instant access via websites and mobile apps. Consumers are already turning to these non-traditional entities to pay bills, transfer money online, and search for loans.

It’s not too late to join the digital revolution, but it soon will be. Banks and credit unions still have an advantage—trusted brand names and connections with Baby Boomers and Generation Xers who may advise their children to use the same institution. But the time to act is now. Financial institutions that ignore these new players and new technologies risk becoming irrelevant in the near future.

Financial institutions are positioned to take advantage of digital financial education

Banks and credit unions have another built-in advantage: financial education. Since brick-and-mortar financial institutions are already considered trusted sources of information, they should be leveraging this trust to offer financial education as a way to reach current and prospective customers. Programming that is highly relevant to consumers’ needs and available in real-time via a range of devices allows consumers to learn when they’re standing in line or sitting on the subway. Technology allows consumers to reach you anytime, anywhere—and your financial education should do the same.

For more information on how to leverage technology as part of your financial marketing strategy to reach new customers, download 10 Key Imperatives of Financial Digital Marketing: A Financial Services Marketing Guide for Improving Your Millennial and Consumer Engagement Strategy.

Announcing the Scholarship Contest Winners!

The Winter Scholarship Contest ended last week with a record number of student submissions. From earning their doctorates to being nautical engineers, your students shared big dreams. We loved hearing about what they’ve learned through Vault and FutureSmart, and how financial education will make a difference in their lives. Each of our five student winners earned a $1000 college savings scholarship to help make their dreams a reality. Their stories will be featured on the EverFi Blog over the coming weeks. Congratulations winners!

Khloe W, STEM Magnet Academy, Illinois

Shannon W, New Market Middle School, Maryland

Grace K, Falls Lake Academy, North Carolina

Diandra P, Giltner High School, Nebraska

Mateja C, Berlin Middle School, Wisconsin

Want to submit more stories? The Spring Scholarship Competition is now open! We will be awarding another five $1,000 college savings scholarships to students in the U.S. who complete Vault, FutureSmart, or EverFi Financial Literacy, and who provide a short reflection by April 28th. This is a great capstone project for students and allows them to reflect on what they’ve learned. Click here to learn more.

TEACHER SPOTLIGHT: Tabitha Herrin

We recently sat down with Tabitha Herrin, a teacher at Stewarts Creek Middle School in Smyrna, TN, to hear how she uses EverFi’s resources in her classroom. This is part of our Teacher Spotlight series.

Tabitha Herrin

Tabitha Herrin

What impact have EverFi’s courses had on your students?

A parent told me that a student who used EverFi Financial Literacy in my class helped his older brother with his FAFSA form! I love hearing stuff like that.

I’ve also seen the impact of Healthy Relationships and Ignition – both hone in on all of the issues of this middle school age. Students connect with the courses on a personal level and really enjoy them.

What do you like best about the programs?

They fit around my curriculum so well. Also, they are very up to date. The kids don’t think it looks like something from the 80s or 90s – it’s very engaging for them.

What is your approach to implementation?

I use a half and half method – 10 students will get on the computers and the rest of the class will go through our written curriculum. We alternate back and forth each day.

What best practices would you share with other teachers?

  • I have new students every 9 weeks, so I created a PPT that has the login info on it. I also print off a paper version of the instructions that I put at their desks. The login process happens during one class period. Because of the half and half method, students may only get on the computers twice a week, but all will cycle through. They are welcome to work on it outside the classroom as well. Their EverFi grade is their main grade. Their username & password is their login information. That way, they can remember it year after year and just add their course code for each year.
  • I planned an engagement activity for Venture (the entrepreneurship course where students create their own food truck business). I reached out to several food trucks in the area and invited them to come to the school. It was a great way to support the local food trucks and provide an additional incentive to students who completed their business plan.
  • Another activity I created is “The World’s Largest Party with Ignition.” Once students finish Ignition, they apply what they’ve learned about how to use technology by planning a party for a country of their choosing – they love it! They have to research basic facts about the country. The population of the country is the attendance; the theme of the party is the native dress; famous landmarks are the venue. Students create a PPT and do a presentation at the very end. We also bring in the food aspect, and students have to make at least one recipe for the class. It takes about 2 class periods to do. It brings in a lot of excitement, and combines many aspects of what they’ve learned in Ignition including technology and research, and it helps them learn more about different cultures and practice their presentation skills.

Do you have any advice for other teachers considering using EverFi?

Don’t be overwhelmed by all of the resources! Try it out with one class/program, or do one program for all of your grade levels until you can get familiar with it and get your lesson plans done. Once you’ve done it all the first time, EverFi makes life so much easier!! Eventually, you can get to have a course per grade level.

Anything else you’d like to share about the program?

The customer support is amazing! If I have an issue or am having problems, I send an email and my Schools Manager connects me to the tech team and they help immediately. By the end of the class period I get a response back. Having that support is great! They even partnered up with my tech specialist at the school and we figured out how to fix a problem I was having. The support is probably one of my favorite aspects.

Tabitha, thank you for your commitment to equipping students with critical life skills!

Tabitha uses Vault for 6th grade, Healthy Relationships and Ignition in 7th grade, and Venture and FutureSmart in 8th grade.

Uplift and Enlighten: Community Financial Education

For Washington Federal, giving back to the community is a vital part of their company mission. And by teaming up with EverFi, Washington Federal was able to create an outreach program that delivers community financial education to those who need it the most.

8,000 students taught. 37,000 hours trained. One underserved community reached. Learn how Washington Federal gives back with community financial education.

Download our guide, Supporting Communities Through Financial Education, to learn more.

Individual employees play a key role in the bank’s outreach program, as they have first-hand knowledge of what the needs in their own communities are. EverFi makes it easy for employees to volunteer by setting up visits and providing learning modules tailored to specific demographics—whether it be seniors, low-income families, or college students. As Ann Hall, vice president of community relations, puts it, “EverFi takes care of so much, so that we can go out and do what we do best: help our community improve their financial decision making – especially with those who need it most.”

Washington Federal knows that it is also critical to reach the next generation, so EverFi helped the bank launch the Washington Federal Financial Scholars Program, which offers online financial education programming to schools at no cost. To date, the program has reached more than 8,000 students who have completed more than 37,000 hours of training. And the work is clearly paying off—at the end of the program, students showed an average improvement of 87 percent in financial knowledge.

With the ability to provide accessible, high-quality online financial education through their partnership with EverFi, Washington Federal now has the freedom to focus on what’s most important: helping the most vulnerable members of their communities improve their financial wellness.

To learn more about how EverFi can help your institution create a successful and meaningful community financial education program, request a free demo.