Congratulations to the Winners of the Montana Bankers Financial Scholars Blog Contest!

In the fall of 2014, EverFi, the Montana Bankers Association and its member banks launched a statewide blog competition open to all Montana students who recently completed the Montana Bankers Financial Scholars program. We asked these students to share their thoughts on a variety of topics, including the impact that this financial education course has had on their lives and the decisions they’ll make going forward.  We also asked them to share the dreams they have for the future and how their newfound financial knowledge has shaped those plans. We’d like to extend a big thank you to all of the students who submitted blog entries in this contest — your stories were truly inspiring.

We are thrilled to announce the winners of this year’s contest, Emilie and Renata, each of whom received a $500 scholarship. Here are their stories:

Winner #1

EmilieSEmilie S.
Lima High School, MT
Sponsored by Montana Bankers Association and Pioneer Federal Savings & Loan

Becoming a photographer seems like an easy job to do. However, most people don’t realize that there are different kinds of photographers (landscape, portrait, black and white, wedding, medical, food, etc.) My dream is to become a well-known landscape photographer who displays her work in art galleries everywhere. Being a senior in high school this is a huge goal to try and accomplish. I have to learn about my finances and figure out how to manage myself on a long road of being a “starving artist”.

The Pioneer Federal Savings and Loan Financial Scholars program is helping me prepare myself for the crazy financial life I’m about to begin. This program showed me the basics of creating a savings/checking account, the power of interest, and different payment types that will keep me out of debt.

My parents opened a savings account for me around five years ago. At that point in my life I barely understood the concept of interest and what a savings account even was. I put the money I had from selling cows in my savings, which roughly added up to $3000 over the years. After going through this program I discovered that if every month I put money in my savings, my interest would help my money grow. Now after taking the advice from the Pioneer Federal Savings and Loan Financial Scholars program I have over $4,500 and that amount is growing every month. With this money I am gaining I can make the down payment on my brand new camera and still have enough to buy my books and supplies for college.

The dream of landscape photography will be a challenge, but with the Pioneer Federal Savings and Loan Financial Scholars program I feel ready to begin my new adventure. I’m on my way!

Winner #2

RenataRenata B.
Bozeman High School, MT
Sponsored by Montana Bankers Association and Big Sky Western Bank

Most likely one of the hardest things to do as a human being is to ask for someone else’s help; whether it be help fixing a bulb, writing a paper, or even worse things like personal matters, no one likes to admit that they are struggling. Unfortunately for modern America, more and more people are falling victim to the prideful stubbornness of not asking others about what to do with their money. I am not proud to admit that even I, a young high school student with minimal financial prowess, was ashamed to ask for monetary advice. The Big Sky Western Bank Financial Foundations program opened my eyes to a much broader perspective on how I should procure with my money management skills. From the insight on loans, credit, banking, saving, and even daily budgeting, this program has taught me more in one semester than I have learned throughout my entire life. I am currently employed at a local Veterinary clinic and could not be happier with my working atmosphere; however, before I signed up for the Big Sky Western Bank program, my paychecks didn’t stretch half as long as they should have.

My generation has been brainwashed into believing that we can simply rely on our parents and worry about saving later in life when we have a more stable career. This program dares that myth and challenges young people to start their life now instead of waiting for later. I am now saving 90% of my paycheck each month for college, directing the other 10% towards birthday and holiday gifts. I now actually enjoy saving and look forward to my bank statement! I sincerely hope that other people can experience the same change I did and that The Big Sky Western Bank Financial Foundations program can really make a difference in the present-day world.

 

Congratulations, Emilie and Renata!

 

EverFi Recognizes National Teacher Day

Today is National Teacher Day and we want to extend tremendous thanks to all the educators who are inspiring today’s youth and preparing America’s next generation of citizens.  We’ve had the pleasure of working with thousands of teachers in all 50 states who are helping students build the skills they need to be successful in life.

We’re inspired by your drive, passion, commitment and creativity.

We’re also thankful for the more the 60 former educators who are now part of EverFi’s national team.  We can’t think of a better group to join our mission than those who have formatively impacted the lives of others through education.

So please join us in thanking teachers today, and everyday, for the incredible commitment they make and for the lasting impact they’re driving.

 

 

A Personalized Approach to Alcohol & Other Drug Education

Are your children prepared for college?

Alcohol. Drugs. Sex. Social Pressure. Not everyone drinks, uses drugs, or succumbs to social pressures when they are in college. But some kids do.  Do you want your children to be prepared to deal with these issues? To have the knowledge to make the right decisions when they are faced with situations in which alcohol is all around them and they are being pressured to participate or their “new” best friend is in a precarious situation and they don’t know how to help them? I would.

AEDU1_newAs a parent, I am thankful that EverFi has developed a product that helps prepare the millions of students who are starting their college career to make smart choices and decisions around alcohol.  Even more importantly, as a member of EverFi’s product team, I have the responsibility of ensuring that our course continues to provide college students with the right information to be successful during this important phase of their academic career.

Population level alcohol education has been our focus at EverFi for thirteen years and we’re incredibly proud to be partnered with 550 colleges and universities across the country.  During that time, AlcoholEdu for College™  has grown into the largest online course in higher education with over 4 million student completions – including 550,000 this academic year alone.

Consistently evolving AlcoholEdu to leverage prevention best practices and to meet the needs of campuses is a core part of our focus and that’s why we’re truly excited about the upcoming launch of a significantly enhanced AlcoholEdu.  A key focus has been enhancing the student experience and the interactions within the course.  We’ve designed the course  to addresses a wide spectrum of students and to provide personalized pathways based on attitudes and behaviors that will resonate with today’s college students.

What’s critical about our focus is that we don’t assume that every college student drinks.  In fact, we know that a significant portion of the student population doesn’t consume alcohol. To ensure that ALL students have a chance to benefit from our course and absorb information tailored specifically to their own experience, we provide multiple pathways for students to move through our course.  Whether they are abstainers, moderate drinkers or heavy drinkers, each student receives relevant content, personalized feedback and practical strategies that are appropriate for their needs.

There are a number of courses in the market today that start with the assumption that every student drinks alcohol and is sexually active.  This type of “one size fits all” messaging is dangerous as it could drive abstainers to either adopt riskier behaviors or to make them feel alienated.  This alienation impacts their college experience and may lead to increased transfers and/or dropouts.   In short, if you are sending a child who doesn’t drink to college, do you want the college to provide education that sends a message that they will not fit in unless they drink?

AlcoholEdu doesn’t talk down to students, use scare tactics or flippant language to get their attention.  We provide a straightforward, fact-based, mature experience that is respectful of the situations that we know students face and the decisions they will need to make.

Having the opportunity to improve a course that millions of students have completed has been a tremendous experience.   As we get closer to launch, we’ll share more updates on the completely new AlcoholEdu for College.  In the interim, ask the Dean of Students of your college or your children’s college if they’re using AlcoholEdu.

 

On and Off the Court

Coach John Calipari: Making the Right Call Both On and Off the Court

Coach John Calipari is among the most successful college basketball coaches in history.   In addition to leading the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team, Coach Calipari also makes a deep commitment to supporting and strengthening local communities.  He’s a person who understands how to leverage his role for social benefit – and how to leave a personal legacy that goes beyond the basketball court.

Since 2011, EverFi has been extremely proud to partner with the Calipari Family Foundation to extend financial literacy education to elementary school students across the commonwealth of Kentucky.

cal video

Coach Cal describes his partnership with EverFi to extend financial literacy education to Kentucky’s youth.

“We need to create a generation of kids who understand concepts like savings, compounding interest, and the basics of why you invest to try to build wealth,” said Coach Calipari. “When you start down that road of understanding how money works – that instead of working for money, you can make it work for you – then you change the direction of an entire generation of young people.”

The Calipari Family Foundation has partnered with Kentucky banks to provide EverFi’s Vault™ – Understanding Money online learning program to more than 5,000 elementary schools students across the Commonwealth.  Other local partners – including Commercial Bank of Grayson, Farmers National Bank of Danville, First Community Bank, First Kentucky Bank, First National Bank of Brooksville, First National Bank of Manchester, Republic Bank, and Whitaker Bank – have joined in this effort by sponsoring EverFi platforms at schools across the state.

chappy and checkCoach Cal prides himself on helping young people reach their dreams and has placed 27 players in the NBA during his college coaching career, including 15 over his first three seasons at Kentucky. But perhaps the biggest impact that he’ll have is on the thousands of young people who he’s helped empower to take control of their financial future.

Thanks for your continued support, Coach Cal!

Dispelling Myths About Teens and Money [Infographic]

The research is clear. Teenagers in the U.S. consistently demonstrate difficulty with successfully negotiating their finances and planning for future economic goals. However, the current investigation revealed that youth acknowledge the critical role that their parents and other adults play in mitigating some of this difficulty. Our research also found that many commonly held negative beliefs about teens, finance and parental impact run counter to how teens actually feel.

Whether intended or not, parent’s and other adults are on the front lines in helping shape key finance-related attitudes and behaviors in their children.

Download the latest EverFi Insight Report to learn more about the study.

Take a look at our latest Infographic:

Education – A Financial Necessity

 

I’d like to think that some form of financial literacy has always been a staple subject taught in the modern American school. However, with the growing epidemic of recent college graduates entering the workforce with unprecedented levels of debt, it’s apparent they are not getting all the necessary financial preparation. Financial know-how is key in helping students weigh decisions on student debt and manage loans responsibly, ultimately giving them more options in our demanding economy.

Teaching the modern student requires a modern approach. In my classroom, a blend of both traditional instruction and interactive technology-based materials has proven far more engaging, and effective. With seemingly endless resources, traditional instruction materials were easy to develop and incorporate into my middle school career-preparation business classes, but finding ways to incorporate rigorous, technology-driven, engaging content proved to be more difficult…until I discovered EverFi.

Graduating from high school in 2006, I cannot recall a course that encompassed all of the concepts bundled in the EverFi Financial Literacy Program. This left me to pick up financial basics through a handful of high school courses and extend the rest of my learning into college, where I was already making many impactful and lasting financial decisions. Had I known about the impact of interest, credit scores, and consumer fraud (yes, I have been a victim) before interacting with them in the real world, I could have saved myself a lot of time and money. As a teacher, I am determined to offer my students the opportunity to not just learn about financial literacy, but allow them to role-play these decisions and experience the associated outcomes in a safe and realistic environment.

Through simulation and gameplay, EverFi has enabled me to offer this learning environment to each of my students and the impact has extended beyond our classroom. Our community is thrilled. I often hear comments like, “I wish I would have had that in school!” and “It’s about time they started teaching that!” from my parents and members of my community. It tells me that incorporating EverFi into my class was definitely a step in the right direction.

I am doing my part to ensure my original assumption is true…financial education is a staple subject at my school!

 

Preparing for the Test…of Life

Susan_b

Financial Literacy EducaitonI’ve been teaching for quite some time and when I’m often asked what I teach. The exchange always goes something like this:

“What subject do you teach?”

“I teach financial literacy”

Immediately followed by, “What’s that?”.

I have few versions of the response, “Well, it’s how to take care of your money, like understanding banking, credit cards, renting apartments, getting insurance, paychecks and taxes, and the list goes on..”

Their response, ”I wish they had taught that when I was in school!”

Consumer economics classes have been around for a long time, but it seems that today’s economy highlighted its importance to the general public. I was brought up with an the old school way of thinking where the man of the house handled the money, but in today’s society, every person is tested day in, day out on their financial competency.  It’s a critical skill. Money management needs to be an individual responsibility, handled in your own way. From children learning to manage small amounts of money to the adults who share in financial decision-making for the family, building financial literacy is a life-long pursuit.

We hear more and more about the expected outcomes of education, many observers noting how our schools are falling short. No school system is perfect but there are many great examples of ways we are serving the needs of the modern student. Financial literacy is a topic that does not have a state mandated testing requirement and, in most states, is not a required course, but it teaches life skills that are very necessary for our students. I tell my students that they may never quote Shakespeare or use the Pythagorean theorem after they finish school, but they will use every bit of what they learn in financial literacy class for the rest of their lives. I’ve seen the skills taught in my classroom applied in the “real world” and it serves as a reminder that we must prepare our students for success both in and outside of the classroom.

The Path to Financial Literacy…2.0

NY Stock ExchangeOver 17 years of teaching financial literacy, I’ve found that learning about money management can be boring if it’s not done right. I’ve spent a lot of my time trying to make it interesting and relevant to my students. I’ve always been fascinated with employing technology in my classroom and began using online resources as soon as a computer lab became available. I was introduced to the EverFi Financial Literacy Platform a few years ago and immediately knew this would both educate and engage my students. After I began using it with my class, I was very pleased with the results. The students were genuinely focused on the modules and enjoyed the innovative approach. All would be well if I had regular access to computers for my students, but since my course is an elective I’ve got low priority in booking computer lab time.

After searching for 7 years, I was able to secure grant funding to get a mobile computer lab for my classroom. With easier access to computers, I am working to reach 100% certification from my current students. We are in the middle of the program, but I have a good feeling about our certification levels for this semester!

The Age of Context

With digital learning on the rise, it’s important to make sure that our students are guided toward using technology for learning. They are incredibly adept at using technology for entertainment, but they need to develop habits using it as a resource to support critical thinking. Every student can” google” an answer, but once that is done, it’s our role as educators to encourage them to contextualize and synthesize the information. In “googling” financial literacy education materials for my class, I received  thousands of hits, but the critical step is determining what blend of resources met my students’ needs.

It seems that financial literacy is a hot topic. Everyone with money to spend has a suggestion and their own version of the best way to become financially literate. It can be overwhelming to get through. The EverFi Platform has helped cut through the noise. Integrating this platform into my curriculum has allowed for topics to be covered with personalized feedback and a blend of both instruction and assessment.

At the start of my class, I have to explain to my students the importance of financial literacy. By the end, they are excited to become EverFi Certified in financial education! They’re proud of their achievement and I’m proud of them.

FinLitMonth

How Educational Technology is Changing the Face of Financial Education

Here’s the million dollar financial literacy question: How do you make topics like Mutual Funds and the Federal Reserve interesting to a bunch of high school students?

The answer is actually right in front of you – your computer.

 

At EverFi, we’re not just trying to change what kids learn, but how they learn it. We’re using web-based, interactive financial literacy curricula to help bridge the gap between dry, textbook financial literacy topics and the gaming world.

Technology is an easy solution – it’s a compelling and entertaining way to teach kids about the basics of personal finance. Yet while online learning is essential to help engage students while they learn new material, the student experience is just one piece of the education technology puzzle. Technology has opened a world of possibility for the field of financial education, especially here at EverFi.

Here are just a few ways our EverFi Financial Literacy platform is redefining how students learn about money:

Personalized Student Engagement with Adaptive Pathing

 

Not everyone learns at the same pace, and we know that students may already have a solid understanding of a few of the financial topics we cover. That’s why we provide adaptive pathing in our curricula, testing students as they progress through the course to see whether they’ve already mastered a topic or they need some extra content to reinforce important ideas.

Easy, Plug-and-Play Curricula for Teachers

A teacher’s time is a finite resource – and it’s one of the biggest challenges to teaching personal finance in the classroom. We also know that interactive and engaging technology is only useful if it’s easy to set up and use. That’s why we believe that one-on-one teacher training and school-to-company relationships are so important. Our platforms provide simple, scalable technology to teachers in any school environment. Something easy to use like EverFi ensures that critical lessons like financial education are taught in the classroom.

Tracked Knowledge Gains and Behavioral Change for Individual Students (and Across our Network)

Just as important as an interactive experience for students is the ability to track student progress and learning. Using student surveys and in-course assessments, the EverFi Financial Literacy platform measures and reports student knowledge gains and changes in student attitudes and behaviors, providing teachers and administrators with the ability to track, intervene and congratulate their students as they progress through the course.

Technology is changing the way students learn, the way teachers teach and the way we track knowledge gains. By leveraging a digital learning experience, we’re now able to create adaptive curriculum, provide in-depth student analytics to teachers and administrators and provide easy-to-adopt technology to ensure that teachers can be successful in the classroom.