Student Blog Contest 2015-2016

Today we’re featuring a guest post from 8th Grader Shanza who shares how the Future Goals – Hockey Scholar™ course taught her math and science skills through real-life scenarios. Congrats to Shanza for being one of our student blog contest winners!

Student: Shanza A.
Teacher: David Lai
School: Thomas Johnson Middle School
State: Maryland
Sponsor: NHL, NHLPA, and the Washington Capitals


Hockey may seem like a simple and effortless sport to play, but Hockey Scholar taught me that there is more to hockey than it seems. In hockey, players have personal preferences. From the type of blade on their skate, to the weight of their equipment, no player will skate the same. Every split second decision a player makes will dictate how they play, like the way a player holds their stick to the weight of their equipment. As insignificant as one thing may seem, the more important the effect. Before all I knew about skates was that there are different sizes available and that you could sharpen them. One thing I learned that has a major impact on the way players skate is the radius of hollow. The way the players’ skate blades are sharpened changes their hollow, which affects how much of the blade digs into the ice. Skates with a deeper hollow can make sharper turns. Skates with a shallow hollow allow players to skate on top of the ice and move sideways on the ice. Goalies tend to have shallower hollows to help them move side to side. My favorite activity from the course was Game 3: Speed- Math (Advanced). This was because it mainly discussed one of my favorite things to learn about, speed. I find everything about speed intriguing and I learned more about it while taking the Hockey Scholar course. A lot of math goes into finding and learning about speed. For example, the activities in this particular game asked you to calculate the player’s speed in meters per second for both the long and short sprint. I love math, so this activity and course was very fun to do!
 

To learn more about Hockey Scholar, visit: http://everfi.com/k12/hockeyscholar/

EverFi and BB&T Congratulate Winners of the 2015-2016 BB&T Student Blog Contest

This past fall, EverFi proudly partnered with BB&T to launch a student blog contest to teachers and students across more than 800 high schools that use the BB&T Financial Foundations program in their classrooms. After students completed the financial education course, they had the opportunity to download and play BB&T’s web-based leadership app, LEGACY: A BB&T Leadership Challenge, and were invited to write a short essay on what leadership means to them.

BB&T Associate Cindi Shaddix presents winning student Tytiana with her award.

BB&T Associate Cindi Shaddix presents winning student Tytiana with her award.

We are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s blog contest! These four students demonstrated a deep understanding of what leadership means to them, and their thoughtful essays inspired all of us.

Tytiana, a student at Elite Scholars Academy in Georgia, shared her views on what it means to be an effective leader:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are a good leader. In the minds of some, being a leader is mainly focused on power, will, and fear. However through the LEGACY game I have learned that being a leader is a goal for the common man or woman who seeks change. Leaders have to be relatable to others. Being an effective leader is about learning to understand, having the patience to succeed, and being able to make the best decisions possible for you and others around you.”

Caleb, a student at Pasquotank County High School in North Carolina, shared his realization that leadership comes in a wide variety of forms:

Caleb, a student at Pasquotank County High School, receives his award

Caleb, a student at Pasquotank County High School, receives his award

“There are two sides of a good leader. There is a mental side and a social side. Before playing LEGACY: A Leadership Challenge, I tended to just focus toward the mental side. This means doing anything that they can to get the job done, hoping for a better future, repeating your good habits and eliminating your old. The mental side is very important. But the social side is just as important. To be a good leader, you must be able to communicate with people effectively. This is what I had to do in LEGACY. I had to communicate with the other characters in a kind yet straightforward way. This is what my father, the leader I look up to in my life, does very well. He was a worker at Lowes. He rarely took days off. He was a very social person. Customers tended to wait the extra minute or two just to be served by my dad, something that my whole family is very proud of. My father’s salary was diminutive compared to many other people in society, but he loved his job. That’s what put him above his counterparts. That’s what puts society’s great leaders above the rest. Their drive. Their willingness to work for what they want. That’s where I want to be.”

Lola, a student at Veterans High School in Georgia, wrote about how the LEGACY game expanded her view on what it means to be an effective leader:

Teacher Dana Burress alongside winning student Lola at Veterans High School

Teacher Dana Burress alongside winning student Lola at Veterans High School.

“My previous idea of a leader was a person who could wield authority; something like an army sergeant. While authority is a good leadership trait, another commonly overlooked trait a of good leader is tact. People are brought up with their own beliefs and ideas of right and wrong. To be an effective leader, one has to go about the right way of introducing your followers to another way of seeing or doing things — without demeaning what they already know. Being a leader is about so much more than possessing authority; it’s about using your influence to help better others. I can only be grateful that this has been brought to my attention early in life, giving me the opportunity to grow in this area and share my newfound knowledge with others.”

Eric, a student at West Forsyth High School in North Carolina, cited an example of a leader in his life who has inspired him:

“Leadership is a defining quality of an individual. A great leader incorporates a multitude of qualities such as being trustworthy, engaged, and empowering while consistently maintaining a positive outlook under intense stress and against all odds. I learned important leadership qualities over this year’s Academy of Finance summer internship from my mentor, Angus Reid. Everyday Mr. Reid organizes and communicates effectively with different clients, tenants, and workers in an elevated sense of respect, positivity, and initiative. His ability to adapt to each individual’s needs and respectfully delegate tasks make him a fantastic leader.”

Congratulations again to our four winners, who each received a $500 gift card. You all have a bright future ahead of you! And many thanks to the dedicated teachers who submitted these winning essays on behalf of their students.

 

Nuggets Picture - EverFi Blog

Denver Nuggets and Lt. Governor Joe Garcia Kick Off African-American History Program

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last week, Colorado Lt. Governor Joe Garcia, a panel of players from the Denver Nuggets, and more than 80 students from West Leadership Academy in Denver gathered to celebrate the launch of EverFi’s 306: African-American History course this spring semester. The Nuggets are making this program available to all 9-12 graders, at no cost to the academy.

Lt. Governor Garcia kicked off the event by sharing personal anecdotes about the positive impact of his diverse upbringing and asked students to reflect on the importance of studying other cultures and learning shared values.

In its third year of operation, West Leadership Academy has a 95% minority enrollment, which includes a 91% hispanic student population. The school was built as part of an initiative to revive a neighboring school with the district’s lowest graduation rate and prepare students to be college-ready.

College-readiness is a central goal of Lt. Governor Garcia’s as well. In his remarks to students, he shared his mission to ensure that students of all backgrounds are equally represented and equally successful in higher education. He also urged students to seek help from their teachers and their community. “If you’re willing to put effort in, there are folks who want to help you be successful,” Garcia advised. “And I want to emphasize that if you’re struggling, these are some of the people who want to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask.”

Clearly, the West Leadership Academy students found common ground with Garcia. The Lt. Governor really resonated with me,” said student Luis Carrasco. “Knowing he is Latino and the position that he is in, that’s really motivating and makes us think that we can do it too.”

The NBA panel, comprised current and former Denver Nuggets players Randy Foye, Mark Randall, and Jameer Nelson, answered students’ questions about why multicultural education is so importan120_EverFiDenvert and provided advice on overcoming adversity and achieving personal goals. “Don’t be caught up in what you’re not,” challenged former NBA player Mark Randall. “Be caught up in what you are and what you can do.”

In the coming weeks, students at West Leadership Academy will be taking EverFi’s 306: African-American History course. They will learn stories and themes of African-American women and men who have overcome obstacles through grit, strength, creativity, and intellect. The kickoff event encouraged students to dive deeper into the course and draw inspiration from it’s great stories. To learn more about 306 and about bringing this diversity & inclusion program into your community, click here >

Student Blog Contest 2015-2016

Student: Vivian R.
Teacher: Jeanne Brist
School: Whitefish Middle School
State: Montana
Sponsor: American Bank

Vault has helped me a lot with money. I was really confused about what happened after my mom swiped her card at a store to pay for our needs and some wants. Now I know that after she swipes her credit card at the store it takes money out of her account and the store gets paid. I also used to be confused about checks. Thanks to Vault, I also know how that works! When you give someone a check you also write down a little note to yourself (that is what I like to call it) so you can keep track of how much money you still have in your account at the bank. If you didn’t write a note letting you know that you just spent $10, than you would not know that you spent that ten dollars and you would forget and think that you still had the ten dollars. That would be bad because then you would go to write someone else a check and you think that you still have ten dollars in your account and you have to pay the bank for your mistake. I have really enjoyed Vault and it has made an impact on my life! Vault can help anyone who is in middle school and has trouble understanding money, I know it helped me.

To learn more about Vault, visit: http://everfi.com/k12/vault-understanding-money/

Taking Time to Celebrate and Care for You

With the “holiday season” now behind us, we’ve had an opportunity to reflect on the past year, give thanks, and appreciate the people in our midst and our many blessings. Yet for most of us, the past few weeks were probably accompanied by an extra-long “to do” list, a flurry of additional activities and gatherings, and a level of stress that is decidedly out of sync with “the most wonderful time of the year.”

For many, there was time spent relaxing and with family and loved ones, celebrating and reinvigorating our personal connections. There was also the potential opportunity to breathe, celebrate ourselves and our accomplishments, and recharge.   Given all our efforts to promote messages of student health, safety, and wellbeing, we often fall short of taking our own advice on preserving a sound body, mind, and spirit. This is particularly important for people providing services to troubled students or those who have experienced trauma who are prone to “compassion fatigue” or “secondary traumatic stress.”

Self-care has come into the common vernacular, and with that, a host of resources, technology-enabled tools, products, and apps have emerged to help support our care for mind, body, and spirit. In support of this movement, research continues to demonstrate the deleterious effects of our modern lifestyle, and the beneficial effect of measures—even seemingly small ones—to maintain a sense of wellbeing and a healthier lifestyle.

A great place to start for resources is the Self-care Starter Kit from the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. Typical self-care activities include:

As you start the new year, consider these self-care practices “gifts to yourself.” And if these gifts feel good and you see their beneficial effects, consider making a habit of them by incorporating them into your daily routine as your new year’s resolution—an ongoing gift to yourself to last throughout 2016.  Best wishes for a happy, healthy new year.

Bringing African-American History to Every School Across the State of Florida

As we approach 2016, multiculturalism in U.S. schools is taking on new a dimension. GenZ, ages 2-19, is the most diverse and multicultural of any generation in the U.S., and studies show that multicultural education is integral to improving academic achievement and preparing all students for success.

EverFi is thrilled to announce a partnership with the Florida Commissioner of Education to bring our 306: African-American History course to hundreds of schools across the state of Florida. The Commissioner of Education’s African-American History Task Force (AAHTF) is an advocate for multicultural studies in Florida’s school districts, teacher education training centers, and the community at large. Through the partnership, the AAHTF has mandated that all districts use EverFi’s 306: African-American History in order to achieve ‘exemplary status.’

Blog quote

Geneva Gay. “The Importance of Multicultural Education”

Laden with imagery and sound, the 306 course is dynamic, immersive, and interactive. Students can take control of their own journey and travel through eras of African-American history at their own pace. The course is designed to address the skills and proficiencies outlined in the Core State Standards for writing and literacy in History and Social Studies. “EverFi’s 306 course is a great learning experience for my U.S. History students.  It brings African American History to life, and offers in depth knowledge on important African Americans and events that helped shape America. 306 is a fun, interactive program that allows students to make a personal connection to the people they are studying. Students come into class excited to tell me about the lessons and what they learned from the course,” said teacher Laura Rutherford, Logger’s Run Middle School in Boca Raton, Florida.

EverFi is excited to help districts and schools meet exemplary status, and our on-the-ground activation team has already begun training teachers across the state, including Hillsborough County, Alachua County, Miami-Dade County and Duval County.

Learn More:
306: African-American History Course > 
AAHTF Partnership > 

Self-Perceptions of Adulthood, Heavy Drinking, and Opposition to the Age 21 Drinking Law

When can a young person be said to have reached adulthood? The quick answer is age 18. That’s the “age of majority” in most countries, when a person is legally an adult and can assume control of and legal responsibility for their personal affairs. That’s true in most US states, but not all it turns out. In Alabama, Delaware, and Nebraska, the designated age is 19, and in Mississippi it’s 21. That said, the minimum legal drinking age in the United States is 21, regardless of variation in the age of adulthood across states.

Of course, becoming a fully functioning adult involves far more than reaching a milestone birthday—rather, it’s a process that unfolds over many years. For Americans, achieving full adulthood involves several key developmental steps: completing one’s education, making independent decisions, living on one’s own and managing a household, securing and maintaining employment, and being financially independent. There are also socio-emotional aspects to becoming a fully functioning adult: establishing a relationship with parents as an equal adult, developing attachments outside one’s immediate family, making lifetime commitments to others, managing one’s emotional life, accepting responsibility for one’s own actions, and so on.

In short, “adulthood” is a complex, multifaceted concept, with an overlay of seemingly contradictory federal and state laws. For that reason it’s not surprising that entering first-year college students, many of whom are living away from home for the first time, have different thoughts about whether they have reached adulthood.

With the increase in drinking seen upon students’ arrival to campus, my colleagues and I were interested to learn whether these differing self-perceptions would be related to how much alcohol entering first-year students drink. As shown in the Insight Report, “Seeing Oneself as an Adult: The Impact on Drinking in the Freshman Year,” the lower a student’s self-rating for perceived adulthood, the greater the number of heavy drinking episodes that student reported having during the past two weeks. This finding has several implications for prevention practice, which the report outlines.

There’s another reason this finding intrigues me. One of the main arguments made in favor of lowering the minimum legal drinking age to 18 is that people this age are adults and should be treated as such. As described in the Insight Report, we know that not seeing oneself as fully adult predicts being a heavier drinker. This raises an interesting question: Is being a heavier drinker predictive of opposition to the age 21 minimum legal drinking age?

When AlcoholEdu for CollegeTM was administered in 2008, we asked a sample of 6,548 entering college students whether they supported or opposed the age 21 minimum legal drinking age. While 25.1% supported the current law and 30.3% had a neutral opinion, 44.6% expressed their opposition.

Now consider how the students’ opinions varied according to their drinking status during the two-week period before the AlcoholEdu survey. Predictably, those who consumed alcohol during the previous two weeks were more likely to oppose the age 21 minimum. Problem drinkers—male students who reported having had 10 or more drinks on at least one occasion during the previous two weeks, and female students who reported having 8 or more drinks—were especially opposed.

drinking-status-by-studentIn summary, the entering first-year students who do not perceive themselves as fully adult drink more heavily than those who do. In turn, the students who drink most heavily are more likely to oppose the age 21 law. In effect, it’s as if many of these 18-year-old students are saying, “No, I haven’t fully reached adulthood and so I drink a lot, but you need to let me drink legally because I’m adult.” As a proponent of the age 21 law, I appreciate the irony.

These findings raise an important issue for campus administrators and campus-based prevention experts: How do we get all college students to understand that, upon entering college, they have crossed a threshold into adulthood, with all of the opportunities and responsibilities that entails? As they approach graduation and their launch into the “real world,” most juniors and seniors figure this out. Stated differently, then, how do we get entering first-year students to think like upperclass students? If we can get these students to see themselves as adults, then maybe we’ll all reap the rewards of more new students acting like adults.

EverFi Salutes Our Veterans

The EverFi team honors all our nation’s military servicemembers, and we’re proud to be a company comprised of strong veteran families.

While our nation’s heroes are out serving our country, we are committed to helping them protect their assets, build financial security, and manage important financial, legal, and personal matters over the course of their lives. This includes education and resources for military servicemembers as well as their families.

We also feel privileged to help many of our partners in their efforts to support the military community through an Employee Career Readiness course and digital programs that build awareness around military student loan benefits. 

The infographic below highlights some important tips to help military servicemembers manage their finances and legal matters before they deploy, while deployed, and during the transition to civilian life.

Military Financial Education Infographic

EverFi is committed to helping them manage important financial, legal, and personal matters over the course of their lives.

The National Report Card on Financial Literacy in High Schools: While Some States Fall Short, Innovation is Happening Everywhere

Last week, Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy released its National Report Card on State Efforts To Improve Financial Literacy in High Schools. This study evaluates the personal finance education efforts of each state based on their graduation requirements, academic standards, and regulations regarding how personal-finance courses are delivered in public high schools.

For a state to get an A, high school students must be required to take the equivalent of a half-year personal-finance course in order to graduate. Only 5 states — Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia and Utah — earned that distinction. Twelve states received Fs on the national report card, while the majority of states received Bs and Cs.Champlain_Report_MakingTheGrade2015

This study underscores the critical need to make financial education a national priority and affirms that state-legislated financial education standards are an important part of the equation. But HOW states operationalize those standards to connect with students is also a huge part of producing measurable results. The study suggests that only state actors can help solve this challenge, but through EverFi’s work with more than 1000 private-sector partners, we are demonstrating that innovation from the both the public and private sectors can have real impact.

At a national level, EverFi’s high school students are making great strides in all 50 states. Last year alone, our students’ knowledge of savings rose 75%; understanding credit scores rose by an average of 39%; and the number of students who now feel prepared to apply for financial aid to help reach their dream of college increased by 79%.

In the “A” states that mandate a half-year personal-finance course, our work is highly scaled. For example in Virginia, since the 2011 legislation became active, 96% of public high schools are now partnering with EverFi to reach over 178,000 students. Alabama did not enact state standards until 2013 when they created a new required ninth-grade class, but EverFi is already working in 43% of those Alabama high schools with great results.

As the report shares and we can verify, even in “lower ranked” states we are seeing pockets of excellence led by courageous Superintendents and Principals in districts across the country, State Treasurers, and private-sector partners who are driving financial education innovation for millions of students nationwide. These leaders understand that work and life demand real critical skills, including financial education.

To the 90,000 teachers across 20,000 schools that help us deliver critical financial literacy education to students, thank you for continuing to be on the front lines of this important work with us.

the-college-effect-everfi

Campus Alcohol Policies and Their Impact on Student Drinking

Most campus administrators have come to recognize that alcohol policies play a role in changing students’ behaviors towards alcohol. As students arrive on campus there is typically an increase in students’ alcohol use, what we call the “college effect” (see Figure 1). Students who have not been heavy drinkers may begin to consume greater amounts of alcohol. Those who have only occasionally had a drink may begin to drink more frequently, and those who have abstained may begin to experiment with alcohol for the first time. Policy enforcement during this time period is critical to set the tone on campus; however, students should be held accountable with consistent enforcement throughout the remainder of the year as well.

Figure 1. The College Effect – Student Arrival on Campus Corresponds with an Increase in Alcohol Use

the college effect everfi

There is a body of research with supporting evidence that policies can make a difference when designed and delivered appropriately. This policy research is presented succinctly within the newly released NIAAA CollegeAIM matrix, which also includes a top efficacy rating for AlcoholEdu, EverFi’s online alcohol education program for incoming first-year students. Environmental strategies are a broad set of policies and programs to reduce alcohol problems among college students. There are three broad levels of policy implementation: state, community, and institutional.

Examples of state level laws include minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) law, high volume sales and consumption, such as happy-hour sales, keg registration, or pitcher sales. Examples of community-level policies include increased surveillance and enforcement by city police, server guidelines, and noise ordinances. Institutional policies include restricting alcohol to specific locations, registration of social events with alcohol, banning kegs, alcohol education programs, sanctions for student violators, and parental notification for underage students.

An education and publicity component must be considered part of the policy effort. Even if policies are in place, those who are targeted must be aware of the policies in order to comply. When new policies are created, it is important to involve students early in the decision making process. Once policies are created, they must be enforced consistently to be meaningful deterrents.

Research shows that student support for stronger policies and enforcement is greater than most students perceive it to be (see Figure 2). In a study published in the Journal of American College Health, including 32 four-year institutions, ninety percent of students supported stricter disciplinary sanctions for students who engage in alcohol-related violence. The students’ perception was that only 65 percent of their peers would support stricter disciplinary sanctions. Seventy-three percent of students supported stricter disciplinary sanctions for students who repeatedly violate campus alcohol policy, but students thought only 41 percent of their peers were supportive. This information is important to share with student to correct misperceived norms and also with stakeholders on campus. Staff, faculty, and senior leaders may be surprised by such strong student support for stronger alcohol policies and enforcement.

Figure 2. Student Support for Alcohol Policies

student support for alcohol policies everfiSource: DeJong, W., Towvim, G., & Schneider, S. (2007). Support for alcohol-control policies and enforcement strategies among US college students at 4-year institutions. Journal of American College Health, 56(3). 231-236.

Next month we will be conducting a webinar on how alcohol policies and programming relate to the practice of pre-gaming. You can register for our upcoming webinar here: Strategic Drinking: Exploring the Culture of Pre-gaming and Implications for Practice. We will be providing examples of how campuses and national fraternities and sororities have begun to address this ongoing challenge.