Inspiring Students Through STEM Education

STEM Education

Economically, the need to provide future generations with STEM education has never been more pressing. Experts believe that up to 85% percent of the jobs today’s students will occupy don’t yet exist. Science and engineering career opportunities are expected to grow at double the rate of growth of the overall workforce and the vast majority of jobs in the next decade will require STEM skills.

How then do we prepare students for the careers of 2030? What skills, knowledge, and attitudes will help guide and prepare students for the technologically-infused careers of the future? While it might be up to a decade before today’s 6th graders enter the full-time workforce, middle school is the ideal time for students to begin seriously considering what may lay beyond high school.

Leading research indicates that most students form their career aspirations by age 14, a compelling rationale to bring career exploration front and center during the critical middle school years. Further research demonstrate that one of the leading indicators for student interest in STEM when departing high school is directly linked to the student’s interest in STEM when they entered high school. As such, it is critical to engage and sustain interest before students begin to think about selecting courses for high school.

Endeavor – STEM Career Exploration is EVERFI’s latest course to spark curiosity in STEM careers and reinforce critical STEM education in classrooms each day. This interactive digital program encourages learners to explore the wide world of STEM and inspires middle school students to consider how their individual qualities, skills, and interests might align with future STEM career opportunities.

Four key components comprise the backbone of the Endeavor course experience:

  • Exposure to real professionals. Throughout the course, students encounter a variety of STEM career opportunities and pathways. These careers represent diverse industries served by STEM and reflect a variety of educational and skill requirements.
  • Grounded in real-world activities. Research indicates a gap between students’ perception of “school science” versus science in the “real world”. Endeavor highlights novel, real-world applications of STEM in our surrounding world.
  • Deep personalization.  As students move through Endeavor, they are encouraged to explore careers and content that connect to their interests and skills.
  • Individualized take-away. As they complete different lessons, students build  an individualized Field Guide – a digital resource containing actionable next steps and course pathing suggestions for students to pursue now, and down the road, as they prepare for the careers of the future.

By connecting students’ interests to future STEM opportunities, Endeavor will engage students in critical STEM skills and encourage them to pursue future STEM careers, whether a contemporary occupation or a potential opportunity that currently only exists in possibility.

Equifax Breach

Equifax Breach: How Consumer Education Can Help

Equifax Breach
On September 9, 2017, we all saw the Equifax breach make headlines, and then the unfortunate follow up and backlash.  Up to 143 million Americans have had their private data hacked, including names, addresses, and Social Security numbers. This incident is being called the biggest hack in history. Security experts around the world derided Equifax’s security protection, as well as its response to the incident. Leading security researcher/blogger Brian Krebs noted, “I cannot recall a previous data breach in which the breached company’s public outreach and response have been so haphazard and ill-conceived as the one coming right now from big-three credit bureau Equifax.”
 
Clearly, we should not tolerate Equifax’s security model that has allowed for the breach to occur. And I cannot in good conscience defend their response: they allegedly waited months to report the hack, they suggested that consumers sign up for a credit monitoring services that included a confusing user agreement where consumers might waive their right to a future class action lawsuit, and they also disclosed that senior executives sold Equifax stock just after the breach occurred but before it was announced to the public.
That being said, while locking down corporate security is hard, I would suggest that informing consumers exactly what to do after a hack is even harder. So letting consumers know what to do is very tricky to get right.

We see that a consumer’s anxiety is ultimately rooted in a lack of knowledge. We all know that we fear what we do not understand. Given the complexity of technology, the mystery of how this happens, and lack of information in general, cyber crime is an especially scary topic for most Americans.  Ultimately, consumers need clear and easy-to-understand information that explains what a security breach is such as the Equifax breach, what to do when you are a victim of a hack, and how to protect yourself in the future.

Consumers need to have education about identity protection and need to have it delivered just-in-time when these events occur.  If you are an employee of a bank or credit union, your institution is probably already pushing out at least some communication and information about the Equifax breach.  But make sure this communication includes clear and jargon-free education with suggested next steps.

 

Providing education on security breaches and identity theft will shine a light on this topic.

My Goal: Be the First to Complete My Education

Today we’re featuring a guest post from high school student Edgar who earned his EVERFI – Financial Literacy for High School certification last spring. Edgar shares about his family’s move to the United States, their focus on the value of schooling, and his goal to complete his education. We’re thrilled to learn the EVERFI program has helped him develop the financial foundations to achieving this goal! Congratulations to Edgar for being one of our scholarship recipients!

Student: Edgar
Teacher: Mrs. Wilke
School: Jefferson High School
State: Illinois
Sponsor: Rockford Bank & Trust

My parents always told me that I should go to college and finish school. I never really understood why until I came upon this website- EVERFI. EVERFI has opened my eyes and taught me that school and education are the key things that will help me be successful. And, to me, true success would be to achieve my dream of going to college and being the first generation in my family to actually finish my education. I want to prove to my parents that all of the sacrifices they made for me will pay off in the long run.

My mother and father are not from this country. Both of my parents are from a little town in a poor place in Mexico called Monclova, Coahuila. In his life in Mexico, my father confronted many conflicts such as; gangs, drug money, corrupt government, etc. I see my mother as a role model because she came from a place in Mexico where starvation and poverty were the norm. Since my mother was the oldest in her family, and her own mother was often working, my mother had to mature at a very young age and take care of her seven siblings. She had all of these responsibilities and, yet, she still had time for her education.

In fact, by the time she was 18, she had already finished high school with honors and finished college with a degree in criminal justice. She had all of this going for her but in 2001, at the age of 25, she married my father and, together, they decided to move to the United States. The sad part is, in the U.S., all of her education was worthless. She had no job, no valid education, and nowhere to live. Although, this did not stop her and, even though they were going through some really hard times, both my father and mother worked. They worked and worked a lot until they could finally afford a little apartment on the south west side of town.

Growing up, I heard many terms that I never understood like mortgage, down payment, inflation, and repossession. I never understood what these terms meant until now. Thanks to EVERFI, I understand how hard my parents have had to work in order to take care of us. Only now, do I understand why my mother always told me to stay in school and to appreciate, and take advantage of, the opportunities that America’s school system (which is nothing like it is in Mexico) offers. So, recently, I asked my mother why she would leave all of her hard work and all of the opportunities she could have had in Mexico. She responded by stating that all of the opportunities she could have had in Mexico, and all of the money that she could have made, would be no comparison to the joy she will feel once she sees me graduate from college. After hearing her say this, I am more determined than ever to succeed and work hard to get my education.

The reason that I completed EVERFI is not because of the grades my teacher is putting in for the modules but because I found this project relevant. Relevant to the way that I can use my money in the future and how I can invest it. EVERFI showed me different solutions to financial problems I might encounter. It showed me ways to help fund my college education. It taught me about mortgages and ways to plan for my retirement. All of these things that I didn’t understand before suddenly came together and made sense to me. EVERFI has helped me immensely because, now, I know about all of these things that people my age and, sometimes, even my parents do not understand.

Although my parents have faced all of these problems, they still have found a way to keep me out of a bad environment. Today, we are not rich. We don’t have a new car, and we don’t own a house. But, today, I can say that I live better than I did a couple of years ago. Today, I can say that I think differently than I did a while ago. It would be a great honor for me to earn the EVERFI scholarship, and I know it would make my family proud. Thank you.

 

EVERFI Helped Me Prepare for College Costs

Today we’re featuring a guest post from high school graduate Gina who earned her EVERFI – Financial Literacy for High School certification last spring. Gina shares how the EVERFI program helped her make financial decisions in advance of starting college this fall. Congratulations to Gina for being one of our scholarship recipients, and best of luck as you head off to school!

Student: Gina
Teacher: Mrs. Gilson
School: Wallenpaupack Area High School
State: Pennsylvania
Sponsor: The Honesdale National Bank

I have many goals and dreams that I want to accomplish in my life and because of EVERFI, which is a great tool, I have gained the knowledge and skills to get there.

I am attending college in the fall and need to save up and budget all my money to be able to pay for it. The college module helped me understand the FAFSA and how to fill it out for college financial assistance, which has helped me greatly. Once I graduate from college, I would love to be able to afford a place of my own and a nice, yet affordable car. I have traveled before and still want to in the future. I’d like to be able to splurge on things once and a while as well. I have learned so much from taking these online modules and quizzes and now can apply them to my life. Staying on budget has always been tricky, but I have learned different ways to stay in budget by differentiating wants from needs and knowing what you can and cannot afford.

I now understand the workings and importance of the banking system and how my credit score can affect me in getting loans or purchasing a car or house. Since I want to be able to afford and get both a car and house, I need to establish and monitor a good credit score for future use. I learned the different options when it comes to renting verses owning and how to choose what will work best in my situation. Renting an apartment with another person will most likely be a good option for me out of college so I can save up my money to eventually be able to afford my dream house. I never understood when looking at my paycheck why so much money came out of it every week, but now I know that by paying that money, it helps with a variety of things such as upkeep with public areas and roads, pays government workers, benefits citizens, etc.

What I thought impacted me the most was the importance of investing and saving my money for the future. Investing my money is a risk, but the greater the risk the greater the outcome, which could be put towards my retirement and my love of traveling. I also feel it is important to invest smart just like anything else you do. I have learned to make sure to educate myself before buying something and researching the best price or options. The best fact I could have learned from these modules is if you save $2,000 a year from around age twenty you will have just under a million dollars to retire with and if I use all of these modules together and invest, save, and spend wisely, I could have more and live the way I want to and achieve my goals and dreams.

 

INNOVATE – Summer 2017: New Resources Announced, and STEM Micro-credential Launching this Fall

Want a sneak peek at new K-12 courses that address prescription drug abuse, STEM career exploration, and nutrition & fitness? How about details on our first STEM Certified Teacher Program cohort launching this fall? Or perhaps you’d like a head start on creating your classes before school starts. Click below for all that and more in this first-ever Summer edition of INNOVATE:

INNOVATE - Summer 2017

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Three Students Win Big With the BB&T Financial Foundations Blog Contest

When the annual Spring BB&T Financial Foundations blog contest came around, Cecilia Kellar, a Personal Finance teacher at Odessa High, enthusiastically encouraged her students to participate. Cecilia uses the BB&T Financial Foundations digital course as a supplemental tool for her in-class curriculum. “The blog contest gives students the opportunity to voice how [the program] has affected them and for them to talk about personal finance,” she said. Little did Cecilia know, one of her own students, Ismael Lujan, would place among the contest winners.

Teachers like Cecilia have leveraged the contest to give students the opportunity to showcase what they’ve learned and, in some cases, receive credit toward their final grade. The contest also comes with a monetary prize for the first, second, and third place winners.

The Spring 2017 blog contest saw over 288 student entries from high schoolers across five states. Learners of all ages submitted their posts, and a number of common themes arose. Saving for college and financing higher education – a topic that is top of mind for many high schoolers across the United States – was the most popular. Many students also wrote about debt and credit. Across the board, entries displayed a wealth of knowledge gain and expressing a desire to apply the information they learned through the course to their daily lives.

So what did the winners have to say?

 

FIRST PLACE WINNER

Angelina Neely, Downingtown S.T.E.M. Academy

“The BB&T Financial Foundations program has helped me plan for my future and allowed me to take the first steps in reaching my lifelong goals without several financial problems. The first step is receiving a higher education. The BB&T Financial Foundations program has started dialogue in my family about the finances available to me for school. I have been searching for scholarships as well as putting a certain amount away in my savings to hopefully decrease the amount of student loans I will need to take out. I now understand all the necessary steps and documents needed to make my financial college experience as simple as possible. Looking past college, the BB&T Financial Foundations program has also prepared me to receive my dream job.”


SECOND PLACE WINNER

Caroline Clapp, Chatham Charter School

“Through the BB&T Financial Foundations Program, I have become aware of many ways to grow my money. I have wanted to see the world for as long as I can remember, but I had never taken into consideration how expensive it is to travel. I recently realized my goals were costly and I probably would not be able to afford to travel, so I was disappointed. After completing all nine modules, I now understand it is going to take more than just keeping my money in a checking account if I want to travel the world. I have since invested all my savings into a diversified investment portfolio. A portion of the money I make from investing will go towards my dream to travel. The rest will go towards other important things like college and my retirement plan. I’m only sixteen, but the BB&T Financial Foundations Program taught me that I can never start saving too early because the longer my money is invested, the more it will grow.


THIRD PLACE WINNER

Ismael Lujan, Odessa High School

Learning with the BB&T Financial Foundations program’s concepts and lessons has made it simple for me to understand how to stay on track and reach my goals while also saving money and still having fun and being happy. The BB&T Financial Foundations program really opens your eyes to the truth and reality that is money. For instance, I never thought of money being a tool, and it is a very powerful tool which we can all use to our advantage. This program has really showed the more intellectual side of handling and saving money. I can safely say that I view the world a little more differently now, but the most important lesson it has taught me is that it is important to save and plan ahead, only use what you need.”

Update from the Financial Capability Network

Financial Capability Network

 

This July, EVERFI’s Financial Capability Network had another intimate invite-only event that convened a diverse set of industry leaders to discuss strategies and best practices for improving the financial capability of people of all ages. The event took place in San Diego, CA, and featured keynotes by Gov. Frank Keating and the former CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable Steve Bartlett.

The event also had many productive and informative speaking panels featuring industry experts.  There were deep-dives into how banks approach CRA efforts, sharing of advice and best practices, as well as research opportunities around financial education. It’s hard to come up with they key takeaways – since there were so many meaningful discussions – but here is our list of the top insights:
  •  Relationships aren’t just the “biggest thing” that matters, they are the ONLY thing!  We spent time talking about relationships with customers, with community, and even with your CRA regulator.  Furthermore, there was definitely some bonding between attendees.  These industry-peer relationships – most of whom do not often get to share ideas – became immediately valuable.
  • Community = Business Growth.  For some reason, Community Development sometimes lives in its own corner of financial institutions, and is not seen as critical to the growth of the institution.  This does not make sense.  Community Development is part of that growth, and investments in community are investments in a financial institution’s future.
  • The power of the Network.  Many financial institutions are tackling difficult problems all on their own.  If we work together as an industry, it is obvious that we can accomplish so much more.  The whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts.
These events are a critical part of the Financial Capability Network – they really make the network come to life. If you would like to learn more about the Financial Capability Network, you can read more here: https://everfi.com/fcn

CEOs Increasingly Scrutinized for Ethical Lapses

A study by PwC business consulting firm Strategy & found that the world’s largest publicly held companies have been terminating CEOs more frequently for ethical lapses. Globally, the years 2012-2016 saw a 36% increase over 2007-2011 in CEO misconduct-related terminations.

The larger the company, the more likely a CEO would be fired for ethical lapses (from a rate of 7.8% of all dismissals in the largest quartile of market share, to a rate of 3.2% in the smallest, in 2012-2016).

Examples of Ethical Lapses

Ethical lapses don’t necessarily signal that leaders or companies lack integrity as whole, but they do indicate serious and harmful errors in ethical judgment. Examples of ethical lapses include business-related misconduct such as fraud, bribery, insider trading, and environmental disasters involving negligence or recklessness.

They also include personal ethical misconduct, such as inflated résumés and sexual indiscretions. (We’ll zero-in on the economic consequences of personal misconduct in Part II of this series.)

Increased Accountability for CEOs

As the study’s authors are quick to point out, this does not necessarily mean that CEOs are less ethical now than they were in the past:

Our data cannot show — and perhaps no data could — whether there’s more wrongdoing at large corporations today than in the past. However, we doubt that’s the case . . . our data shows that companies are continuing to improve both their processes for choosing and replacing CEOs and their leadership governance practices — especially in developed countries.

What it does mean is that boards of directors hold CEOs more accountable now, largely due to these 21st century factors:

  • Increased public suspicion of corporate behavior;
  • The amplifying effects of the 24/7 news cycle and of wrongdoing’s digital footprint on social media;
  • Increased legislative, regulatory, and enforcement actions; and
  • Greater global exposure to supply chain and emerging market-related risks.

All of this points to what the study’s authors call “a sea change in accountability” over the last 15 years. In the late 20th century, by contrast, corporate misconduct almost never resulted in CEO turnover: “criminal prosecutions of corporate officers were extremely rare . . . financial penalties tended to be modest . . . and media attention was often limited to the business press,” the study’s authors observe.

Systemic Recommendations for Ethical Leadership

The study concludes with systemic recommendations for ethical leadership. After all, CEOs don’t turn “bad” in a vacuum. They are both influencers in, and influenced by, the social and corporate cultural circles they are part of.

So, the recommendations focus on what leaders can do on a company-wide level to avoid unethical behavior by any employee and by the corporation itself:

1. “Organizational and external influences.”

Social pressures such as unrealistic performance targets create bigger problems than financial incentives. Leaders should make sure that they have appropriate structural checks on misconduct. This includes an open-door policy that encourages employee dialogue about both good and bad news (such as difficulty meeting targets). That way, problems can come to light before they turn into ethical lapses.

2. “Business processes.”

Minimize opportunities for bad behavior by assessing your company’s risk exposure, by shoring up compliance programs for effectiveness, and by ensuring that employees have ways to report misconduct and know how to do so. [Our research shows that employers should give workers multiple avenues for internal reporting, not just a whistleblower hotline.]

3. “Individual ethical decision making.”

People convince themselves to act unethically by telling themselves that it’s okay to break the rules (rationalization). Leaders who seem to implicitly or explicitly condone rule-breaking influence company culture and make it easier for employees to rationalize cutting corners themselves.

Ethical leaders should clearly and effectively communicate their company’s ethics and compliance policies through employee training. They should drive ethical engagement from the top by example (including by holding themselves accountable and admitting mistakes) and seek out expert guidance when facing ethical dilemmas.

In addition to these recommendations, I would add that ethical managers value evidence over opinion (expert or otherwise) in assessing whether their company’s ethics and compliance program is working. Although it’s human nature to hold our own opinions in high esteem, doing so often leads to ethical lapses. Ethical leaders rely on the facts first.

Note: This is Part I of a three-part series on the consequences of leadership misconduct. Part II will examine the economic impact of personal indiscretions by corporate leaders. Part III will wrap up by looking at situations in which leaders and workers are more likely to cheat, through the lens of recent enforcement actions and empirical data.

Ethics and Compliance Training for Leadership

EVERFI delivers online training to help your business meet compliance requirements both dynamically and scalably. In addition to our award-winning online courses, EVERFI delivers a robust, cloud-based learning management system to help you easily deploy and track our growing library of compliance training courses, including code of conduct and ethics, anti-harassment, data security, and much more.

The Importance of Financial Digital Marketing

 

Technology has changed the way financial institutions interact with consumers. Over the years, in-store visits to banks have decreased from more than two dozen to roughly three visits per year.  This trend encourages financial institutions like yours to find innovative ways to stay in touch with the consumers who’ve embraced the digital age. This means it’s more important than ever for your financial institution to implement a digital marketing strategy.

How to Start the Digital Conversation

The digital age allows  your financial institutions to stay in constant communication with consumers. In order to create a strong presence, your financial institutions must use content to establish expertise with your targeted audience. Consumers want to receive insights, increase their knowledge on financial literacy, attend webinars; read blogs and case studies. If you work on getting started with one of these digital marketing techniques you will create trust between your financial institution and the consumer.

Digital marketing would also allow your financial institutions to set measurable goals and find ways to successfully achieve those goals. After getting buy in from executives and setting measurable goals it’s time to build the foundation and start executing your plans by:

  • Reaching Your Audience
    There are plenty of channels that your financial institution can use to reach your targeted audience. Some of those channels include email marketing, website marketing, mobile marketing, social media marketing, paid social media, and blogging. Choosing one or two to get started with will enable you to reach more of your consumers.
  • Driving Engagement with Financial Education
    Engaging with your audience through of financial education has a lot of benefits. Not only can your financial institution show off their expertise, but also your company can learn about their target audience and take them on a new journey with your financial institution. 
  • Tracking & Maintaining Engagement
    Once your financial institution has engaged with your targeted audience, it is important to track and maintain the results. By doing so, this allows your financial institution to pull insights, create data and find new ways how to interact with your new targeted audience.

To learn more about digital marketing  and best practices join us for our upcoming webinar on July 20th 1PM EST on The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing. If you can’t join us for the webinar check out the guidebooks that started it all, The Ultimate Guide to Financial Digital Marketing.