Empowering the Next Generation to Reimagine Civic Engagement Through the Lens of African-American History

On this 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination and more than sixty years after the passage of Brown v. Board of Education, we celebrate the progress wrought by the Civil Rights Movement and by those who gave their lives to improve the lives of everyone in their communities. Stories of grit, resilience and determination remind us all that it is as important as ever to understand and learn from the past. Last week, executives from TIAA and students from Vance High School traveled to our nation’s capital for a field trip to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Our time at the exhibits underscored for all of us how history is instrumental in shaping tomorrow’s leaders.

The field trip served as a culminating event for select group of Vance High School students, from Charlotte, North Carolina, who participated in EVERFI’s 306: African-American History course. Throughout the personal tour from museum cultural historian John Franklin, students found themselves up close and personal with historical artifacts and stories of heroes they had just learned about in the digital course.

The museum featured a map that outlined events leading up to Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. The students were particularly surprised and inspired to learn about how their home state helped pave the way. In 1951, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was ordered by federal courts to admit African Americans to its law, medical, and graduate schools. Though primary and secondary school systems remained segregated, the Pamlico County NAACP also filed a lawsuit for school equalization or integration in 1951. At the time, the national NAACP was readying the court challenge that would lead to the Brown decision.

We also learned that for many involved in fighting to end school segregation or supporting the civil rights movement of the 1950’s, their historical legacy was about deciding for themselves who they wanted to be as civically engaged Americans. “Maybe if we said, ‘this is American History, and this is what happened to people, instead of, this is African-American History and this only happened to them’,” said one Vance student, reflecting on the visit. “Then maybe students who don’t relate to this would realize it’s their history too and it’s about all people.”

Overall, the trip underscored the key takeaways of the 306 course and helped us to internalize how the past shaped today’s landscape. Our visit challenged us to think beyond our comfort levels and examine what we are trying to achieve for the greater social good. The legacies of the heroes and heroines covered in the course and at the museum provide the roadmap needed to guide this next generation of leaders on their journey of self and civic discovery.

From the Field – Eustis High School, Eustis, FL

United Southern spent the day at Eustis High School helping students budget, learn about careers in banking and finance, and allowing EVERFI certificate holders access to open free checking accounts despite their age.

Schools Manager: Mat Kirouac
Teacher: Debbie Cyr
School: Eustis High School – Lake County
City: Eustis, FL
Course: EVERFI: Financial Literacy, Venture

From the Field – Broadmoor High School, Baton Rouge, LA

Regions Bank, Broadmoor High and Everfi partnered to hold a certification ceremony for the 116 students who completed Everfi: Financial Literacy, as well as those who also completed Ignition, Healthy Relationships and/or Venture. We had several special guests in attendance, including the Director of High Schools Sholanda Simoneaux, Director of Career and Technical Education Ronnie Pocorello, Principal Troy Boatner, and Jump$tart Board President Blaine Grimes. Several students spoke about what EVERFI means to them and how they will use their new knowledge of financial literacy in the future. Teri Thomas from Regions Bank presented the kids with certificates entitling them to free banking until age 25.

Schools Manager: Lauren Pingul
Teacher: Linda Chenevert, Debra Wilkerson, Everett Odom
School: Broadmoor High School, East Baton Rouge Parish School System
City: Baton Rouge, LA
Course: EVERFI: Financial Literacy, Ignition, Healthy Relationships, Venture

From the Field – Balboa High School, San Francisco, CA

U.S. Bank led a budgeting activity with Balboa High School’s seniors in Michael Rosenberg’s Economics class. Before the activity, U.S. Bank asked students what their favorite part of EVERFI was. Students said “I learned that I should have a budget and different ways to do so” and “I learned that credit score is really important if you want to get a loan”. Students were then broken into groups of four and assigned a job title per group with a corresponding salary. They then had to make financial decisions as part of their budget. Many students were surprised to learn how many different financial obligations they will have after high school. The biggest surprise to students was the amount of taxes they have to pay. “Is that really how much they take out?!” exclaimed one student. Others opted out of many entertainment options and one went as far as to say “I guess I don’t need lights if that’s how much electricity costs!”. Overall, students were thoroughly engaged and learned how important it is to think about and budget for the expenses of everyday living.

Schools Manager: Caitlin O’Connor
Teacher: Michael Rosenberg
School: Balboa High School, San Francisco Unified
City: San Francisco, CA
Course: EVERFI Financial Literacy; U.S. Bank Financial Genius

From the Field – Williams Memorial Elementary, St. George, South Carolina

When Financial Literacy month was in full swing, teachers and school counselors across South Carolina turned to the Future Scholar Financial Literacy program, sponsored by South Carolina’s State Treasurer, Curtis Loftis, The 529 College Savings Plan and SC Economics, to help bring complex financial concepts to life for their students.

I had the pleasure of visiting several classrooms across the state to help students and teachers get started with Future Scholar. I am always amazed by how excited students are when I first explain the program to them– of course they love the idea of money, but they are also incredibly eager to learn about the habits that will help prepare them for life outside of the classroom.

After spending about thirty minutes on the program, 5th Grade students from Williams Memorial Elementary in St. George, SC, were already reflecting on the importance of creating a savings plan to meet short-term and long-term financial goals, understood the importance of keeping financial information private and couldn’t wait for the next chance to use the program in their upcoming guidance lessons. Some students even asked if they could keep working on it at home over spring break!.

Schools Manager: Belle Stoker
Teacher: Tarsha Brown
School: Williams Memorial Elementary, Dorchester 4 School District
City: St. George, South Carolina
Course: Future Scholar (Vault)

From the Field – Mandarin High School, Jacksonville, FL

Two teachers were awarded with an “Innovation in Financial Education” award from Scott Keith (VP for North/Central FL BB&T). They have used the BB&T Financial Foundations program for three years and have impacted over 900 students. The students now have a better grasp on what can impact their credit score, and the fees that can be associated with signing up for a credit card. After completing the savings module, one student asked his teacher for advice on how he can start saving and where he should be putting his money.

Schools Manager: Ashley Hart
Teacher: Anthony Boyo and Eric Fields
School: Mandarin High School, Duval County
City: Jacksonville, FL
Course: EVERFI: Financial Literacy

From the Field – Eldorado High School, Las Vegas, NV

In early March, I co-hosted a classroom launch with Pam Pratka, a 29 year Vision Bank veteran and Ms. Miranda Smith at Prague High School. Her students were so engaged with the EVERFI – Financial Literacy program and went straight to work. At the end of the class period, one young man told me he actually found the information quite interesting, with a big, bright smile!

Schools Manager: Dana Benedict-Wilson
Teacher: Ben Wood
School: Eldorado High School, Clark County School District
City: Las Vegas, NV
Course: EVERFI – Financial Literacy

From the Field – Woodlawn High School, Baton Rouge, LA

We partnered with Regions Bank to hold a certification ceremony to acknowledge the hard work of these students! We had over 700 students use Financial Literacy and 350 certified! Teri Thomas from Regions Bank presented the students with a fun cell phone holder gift as well as a certificate entitling them to free banking until they’re 25.

Schools Manager: Lauren Pingul
Teacher: David Wilburn
School: Woodlawn High School, East Baton Rouge Parish School System
City: Baton Rouge, LA
Course: EVERFI : Financial Literacy