Educator Spotlight: Carmen Rednic

Our network of K-12 teachers is EVERFI’s heartbeat. That’s why we’ve launched Educator Spotlights: Stories from the Classroom. Every couple of months, we’ll invite you inside the classrooms of inspiring educators to get a glimpse into how and why they keep doing what they do. Enjoy!

“From my experience of learning about money on my own, I recognize how important it is for the school to teach this critical skill. It’s as crucial as learning how to read and write.”


Teacher:  Carmen Rednic

Subject:  Finance and Business

School:  Fordson High School, Michigan

Resource:  EVERFI – Financial Literacy (Grades 9-12)

 

EVERFI Michigan Schools Manager Samantha caught up with Carmen, a Finance and Business Teacher at Fordson High School, to see why she keeps coming back to EVERFI – Financial Literacy as a key resource in her classroom.

How does EVERFI align with the subject matter you’re covering with your students?

I’m currently using the Credit Score lesson with my class. It’s critical for students to understand that each person’s credit history is completely unique, and that the behaviors and habits they form now will stick with them. If they have a good understanding of their credit score, they will be better prepared to make smart decisions around money. This lesson teaches, for example, that to apply for a car or an apartment, you must have a good credit score. 

What personal impact do you hope EVERFI will have on your students?

EVERFI opens up my students’ eyes as far as “hey- this is really important.” Students think that being in a little bit of debt isn’t a big deal, without realizing that once you get into debt, it gets harder to get out. My hope is that this program helps them make better decisions in life. Students oftentimes learn bad habits from their families. Without financial literacy education at school, they are likely to fall into the same pitfalls as their parents. Awareness is a first step.

What is one piece of advice you would pass on to teachers using EVERFI for the first time?

Financial literacy is a life skill that every student needs. Personally, when I arrived in this country, I had no awareness of credit scores. My parents never taught me. Most of my students were born here, but many of their parents were newcomers at some point. From my experience of learning about money on my own, I recognize how important it is for the school to teach this critical skill. It’s as crucial as learning how to read and write.

I reiterate the same material over and over again, but in different ways. It’s not just online, it’s in a book, 1:1, conversational, etc. EVERFI is one of the ways I can differentiate these financial concepts. Students can go back and answer the assessment questions again, can ask me questions, can have discussions, which helps them better understand what I’m teaching. A lot of the time, we cover the same topic later on in the semester, and they make the connection.

 

Learn more about EVERFI

 

Want to share a story from your classroom? Email Lisa at ljwright@everfi.com.

Read Sarah’s story.

Watch Brian and Jill’s story.

Read Kim’s story.

International Credit Union Day: 4 credit unions that are leading the way with financial education

International Credit Union Day

 

It’s International Credit Union Day – held on the third Thursday of every October since 1948 – and all of us at EVERFI want to recognize our credit union partners with a nod to this year’s theme of “Dreams Thrive Here.” In celebrating the ways that credit unions help members achieve big goals in life, today we take a look at how four institutions are successfully using financial education to pursue that mission.

Community First Credit Union, Jacksonville, Fla.

Online education modules secure record-breaking, long-term outcomes

When in-person financial education classes produced only fair results, this $1.5-billion-asset institution turned to a completely customizable, digital platform to better reach its more than 122,000 members in 18 locations.

Called “moveUP,” Community First’s financial wellness program – created by EVERFI – enabled a much broader training platform to help improve the financial health of its large membership base.

Through 22 educational modules on topics ranging from auto loans to mortgages, Community First realized a succession of enviable results during the six-week program lifecycle: a one-day record number of new accounts opened upon program launch, and the biggest rise in unsecured personal loans issued – a 41% increase over the previous year.

Ultimately, says Jonathan Hanson, Community First’s Product Manager, this program aims directly at fulfilling one of the credit union’s core goals: “Together with EVERFI, we’re building a pipeline of potentially credit-worthy new members for the future.”


University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union
, Lexington, Ken.

Digitally-driven content focus drives Millennial participation

To connect with its younger members and help this wired generation grow its financial knowledge, the credit union partnered with EVERFI to design on-demand, online education modules centered around video content that can be viewed from anywhere and from any device – be it laptop or smartphone.

This digital marketing initiative enables the 80-year-old financial cooperative to significantly strengthen its appeal to the modern Millennial market it serves. Case in point: Because auto loans represent a large sales driver for this community, UKFCU tied completion of the training modules it offers to an interest-rate discount on new auto loans. This strategy pulled in one out of every three website visitors and led to an impressive 87% education module completion rate.

“For those of us working closely with universities and student populations, being able to combine the right content with the right vehicle for communicating that content is crucial,” explains Carol Carr, the credit union’s Financial Education Specialist, adding that the next level calls for adding programming to other digital channels, such as email and social media. “It’s so important for our credit union to provide accurate financial education so that members can know that they’re in good hands.”

 

USAlliance Federal Credit Union, Rye. N.Y.

Tailor-made financial education partnership serves diverse needs 

With a membership reach that spans the Northeast Corridor, USAlliance FCU serves a wide-ranging community – including corporate employees and public service workers. Because of that diversity, the $1+billion-asset institution needed a well-leveraged, financial education solution that’s more deeply customized than just any off-the-shelf vendor program.

Working with EVERFI, the 90,000-member credit union was able to fine-tune the financial-education experience it needed to deliver – matching members with modules that fit their personal interests and life needs. Strategies involved integrating email campaigns with specific content that members previously viewed or downloaded, and linking financial products or offers based on the module topic completed.

Six months after the EVERFI-powered launch, the credit union’s “Financial Wellness Center” program was a hit, attracting 10,000 customers who completed more than 5,000 modules. Most importantly, says Tori Burton, the institution’s Marketing Vice President, the EVERFI partnership allows USAlliance FCU to provide the unique value inherent in its mission.

“We want to help our members live life fully,” she says, “and that means equipping them with tools and knowledge to better manage their finances. We needed someone to grasp what made our members tick, and they [EVERFI] just ‘got it.’ ”

 

Pacific Service Credit Union, Concord, Calif.

Quick-to-launch rollout delivers fast-track results

To inspire its 70,000 members with an easy-to-use education that would empower them to make better financial decisions, Pacific Service CU wanted to take advantage of Financial Literacy Month last April to introduce a brand new skill-building strategy.

Thanks to EVERFI’s digital education technology, a seamless launch allowed the $1+billion-asset credit union to meet that key timeline with a four-module rollout on topics ranging from credit cards to identity protection to retirement planning. Branded under the name “Take Charge of Your Finances,” the incentivized program was advertised with ads and alerts throughout the credit union’s website, as well as promoted on social media.

Notably, Pacific Service CU’s email campaign led the list of fast-track results, achieving a 30% open rate – 50% higher than industry standards. After only six weeks, more than 2,000 customers had “taken charge” by completing the education modules – and the institution attracted more than 1,200 member enrollments.

Pacific Service CU Marketing Director Bryan Lyons sums up the success with this simple, but far-reaching message: “The more our members know, the better their decisions will be, and the more prosperous their futures will be.”

 

Interested in learning more about the financial education programs that brought these credit unions a new level of member outreach? Request an EVERFI demo at https://EVERFI.com/webcontact-us-form/

National Savings Day: 5 Ways that Financial Institutions Can Help Accountholders

Today, October 12th is National Savings Day and we want to highlight some troublesome facts: Americans are falling short when it comes to rainy day funds. According to a recent Bankrate Financial Security Index, 24% of adults – and 25% of Millennials – say they have no money saved for an emergency like a layoff or a medical bill. On top of that, just 31% of adults and 23% of Millennials have what’s considered an adequate savings cushion: enough to cover six months’ worth of unanticipated expenses.

National Savings Day represents a great opportunity to think about your institution’s strategies and how they can be geared towards helping consumers save more effectively. Here are five ways that your financial institution can help accountholders build their savings:

  1. Incentivize savings accounts. Cash perks, rate bonuses, gift cards or prize-linked account features are powerful tools to attract new accounts and help retain existing ones – and they incentivize positive saving behaviors, as well. Kick it up a notch by rewarding your customers for taking proactive steps to opening a savings account, making consecutive deposits, or not withdrawing funds for a period of time.
  2. Reach out to Millennials in new ways. These digital natives gravitate toward mobile-banking apps that help them do the right thing – from analyzing daily spending and savings targets to setting up savings buckets where they can allot cash for big-ticket plans, like a car or a trip. These user-friendly tools also can link to social networks, where reminders and visual representations of their progress can be shared. Streamlining your posting of targeted savings messages across multiple platforms covers all the bases. Smart, visual aesthetics – whether they are graphic illustrations or short videos – will engage Millennials and demonstrate how your institution is different when it comes to partnering in savings.
  3. Implement a financial education program. Helping customers learn about savings options that may work best for them should be a cornerstone of any financial institution’s marketing strategy. In fact, a recent EVERFI survey found that 89% of banks and credit unions rely on financial education as a part of their digital marketing strategy, while 45% plan to increase their budget in this area. To be effective, financial education must meet a current need and must reach accountholders at appropriate milestones, as they make important life decisions – online learning programs are the way to do this effectively. Quick, relevant lessons on savings topics that resonate with the community you serve can secure trusted relationships – and ultimately encourage long-term savers within your product array.
  4. Train employees to talk about savings with customers. 60% of great banking experiences are due to great staff, and 46% of your customers will rely on your employees to select products for them, according to PwC’s Retail Banking 2020 report. That’s why a firm grasp of savings product knowledge and an ability to assess accountholder financial status are critical skills for staff to possess. If a customer has a high cash balance on a checking account, for example, your associate could cross-sell a high-yield savings account or certificate-of-deposit. Along with inspiring accountholder savings, these types of personalized, relationship-building methods can boost your institution’s wallet share – earning more of each customer’s total business by guiding them to more effective savings products.
  5. Publicize automatic savings options. Automatic funds transfer programs offer an effortless way to build savings, yet only 40% of Americans participate in automatic savings outside of work. Perhaps that’s why the FDIC annually reminds financial institutions to promote this simple savings strategy. Provide options for customers to set up recurring transfers from checking accounts to savings accounts, and then take the idea one step further with a “spare change” program. These programs round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar amount and transfer the difference into a savings account. Boost the habit even more by offering rewards – typically a percentage of the amount rounded up (with an annual cap).

National Savings Day is a great day to reflect on how your financial institution can continue the good work you have already started. Getting consumers to think about their savings potential – how much they can realistically set aside each month after essential expenses – leads to positive action that helps build up the personal financial reserves they need. Having digital financial education programs and mobile app tools available to educate accountholders about savings – will also have a benefit of savvier and more invested customers. Learn more about how your institution can help customers build financial capability and reach consumers in meaningful ways with EVERFI’s Financial Capability Network.

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 demonstrates 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.”