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.”
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.”
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.”
Today we’re featuring a guest post from elementary student Natalie who earned her Vault – Understanding Money certification this spring. Natalie shares how the Vault program started out as just an assignment, but quickly became a valuable learning experience for her future. Congrats to Natalie for being one of our scholarship recipients!
Teacher: Ms. Caterina
School: Mammoth Heights Elementary School
Sponsor: Colorado Office of the Attorney General
My name is Natalie and I am 12 years old. EVERFI’s Vault was a life changer for me. I learned so much and had so much fun doing it! It took me a while, but it was worth it. I learned so much within the six lessons, but learned the most out of Responsible Money Choices, Income and Careers , and Planning and Money Management. At first I started out doing it for an assignment and ended up doing it for fun.
The first world within the program was about Responsible Money Choices. When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I started a savings account. I would earn the money and go to the bank to deliver it straight into my savings account. I stopped after a while as I yearned to go the mall or movies with my friends. I ended up almost using all my money except for the money in my savings account. When I started the Responsible Money Choices lesson on EVERFI, I started feeling guilty and ended up putting money in my savings account again. I keep a little money in my wallet for things I really need but the rest of my money goes in the savings account. I learned that having a savings account is an important thing and money isn’t meant to be wasted. I should also save my money now so that I can have it for the future. Such as college, or maybe even my career. I hope I never use all my money up again for silly things.
When I was done with the first world I was excited to see what was next. It ended up being the Income and Careers lesson. At first I didn’t know what income was, but as I continued through that activity’s lessons I learned that it is hard earned money through a career. A career is usually a passion that is turned into something that will be happening for the rest of a life. I first started out bored and confused but ended up learning that income is very important and is not just about making money. It is about making money and having fun doing it.
In the third lesson, Planning and Money Management, I learned so much. I have a very big structured brain, which means that I am very organized. Planning is a big part of your future. With my organized brain I am sure that I can take my knowledge to the next level. I can think about my money. I learned that it is the best time when you are around my age to start saving up and stop spending. That is why I started a savings account. It helps my organized brain think. I also learned that it can be so confusing to do taxes and checks. As I got deeper into Vault, I learned that can be quite simple.
EVERFI is such an amazing and really helpful tool. It helped me through some tough times. I hope everyone around the world uses EVERFI’s Vault. It may start out as an assignment, but will for sure turn out as a thing to do for fun. It brings learning up a notch and is very helpful for teachers. EVERFI is a life changer.
At EVERFI, we know our best STEM advocates are our educators.
Today we’re featuring Ms. Scarfogliero, a science teacher at PS/IS 109 Glenwood Academy of Science and Technology in New York.
How do you implement EVERFI’s resources in your classroom?
I implement EVERFI’s resources in my classroom through the Future Goals – Hockey Scholar program. This is my second year using the program in my 8th grade science classes. Before Hockey Scholar, most of my students were unfamiliar with the game of hockey, and the entire program was a new experience for them. My students loved it! They obtain a great deal of STEM knowledge in each module and love competing to win trophies.
Why do you use EVERFI’s resources?
I continue to use EVERFI’s resources to increase student motivation and engagement. Students are exposed to real life experiences and observe first hand the connection between science and sports. My students are always motivated to use the program to learn new content. I like the ease of use EVERFI’s programs and differentiation the program adds to my classroom. Hockey Scholar is easily accessible to all types of learners.
How do you think technology will change education over the next 10 years?
I feel technology is the largest area for growth in education today. Students are always on their phones or computers; we should harness that level of engagement and interaction into academic success. EVERFI’s partnership has offered both a beneficial technology and additional interactive STEM component to my science classroom. This partnership has also made a positive impact on my pedagogy. Technology fuels student excitement and successfully differentiates instruction. Using the program to explore science, technology, engineering and math topics has helped my students to think critically, design, collaborate, problem solve, use the scientific method and learn about the engineering process. I am motivated everyday to see my students explore new concepts and be passionate about science.
What impact have these programs had on your classroom?
Over the past two years using the program, I have seen improvement in student motivation and understanding of many topics, including physical science topics such as force and motion. The program has also exposed my students to different fields of science and sports as well as possible future career paths. Thank you for offering such a beneficial teaching tool!
Thank YOU, Ms. Scarfogliero!
PS/IS 109 Glenwood Academy of Science and Technology
Today we’re featuring a guest post from student Miranda who shares her experience with EverFi – Financial Literacy and how she believes the program has helped her better prepare for life after high school. Congrats to Miranda for being one of our scholarship recipients!
Teacher: Mr. Keller
School: Oliver Wendell Holmes High School
Sponsor: MassMutual Foundation
There is no such thing as being 100 percent prepared for anything in life. In school we are taught how to write better, solve math problems quicker, and memorize scientific and historical facts longer, but we are never directly taught how to do important fundamentals of life. Often times I have heard stories from my friends who wish they would have known this or didn’t find out until it was too late, and it has made me wonder why aren’t students informed sooner? I believe the reason people are unsuccessful in their finances is not because they failed to prepare themselves for future circumstances, but rather they simply were not given the tools to know for themselves. EVERFI is the tool that can and does help numerous students transition securely into their new financial circumstances. The three topics I believe will help me directly after high school are higher education, credit scores, and investing. By understanding these three topics better, I feel more prepared and assured in myself to increase my financial stability for the future.
Learning about higher education, credit scores, and investing through EVERFI has settled some of my financial worries by exposing me to various paths and helping me to choose the best ones for me. The higher education portion of the module has made me feel better prepared on how to pay for college. Understanding how my FAFSA provides a personalized limit on money I can use toward college, how filing for subsidized loans is a better choice, and how to get more grant and scholarship opportunities has benefited me in organizing a suitable way to pay for college. This section taught me how to handle my payments and debts for college in a way so that once I graduate, I will not feel overwhelmed or stressed like many other graduates often do.
Before using the module I didn’t know the advantages and disadvantages of having a credit card nor how it could effect my credit scores. I will now be encouraged to pay my future credit bills on time so that credit lenders will know I am dependable; furthermore, making me eligible to receive loans in the future. The investment section taught me how it’s better to prepare for situations that are years ahead rather than months away. I’ve learned that bonds are loans to business and are safer choices than stocks where the profit I earn fluctuates along with success of that particular business. I now know undoubtedly by saving more today I can enjoy the benefits tomorrow .
I appreciate this module for teaching myself, alongside many other users, how to not be afraid of our future responsibilities. I believe that the reason so many people stress over their finances is because they don’t know what to expect. This module may not take care of all of the financial burdens people face, but it does help to educate and prepare them for when situations arise.
Announcing the winners of the Future Goals STEM Scholarship!
More than 1,000 students across the country submitted entries for our Future Goals STEM Scholarship competition! We were blown away by students’ stories detailing how The Future Goals Program helped them learn important STEM skills and career opportunities. Thank you to all of the students and teachers who participated.
Congratulations to the winners who will each receive a $1,000 529 College Savings Scholarship to help fund their STEM educations:
Mallory S, Oblock Junior High School, PA
Caitlyn Z, Whitt Fine Arts Academy, TX
Natalie M, Garrett Junior High School, NV
Working in Support of Education (w!se) released its annual ranking of the 100 Best w!se High Schools Teaching Personal Finance. We are thrilled to recognize more than half of the designees are EverFi partner schools utilizing the EverFi – Financial Literacy for High School resource during the 2016-2017 school year!
In addition, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the “100 Best” ranking, w!se awarded the Silver Anniversary Cup to the highest performing schools for the past five consecutive years. Four of five winners are EverFi partner schools:
Aviation High School – New York City, NY
Holston High School – Damascus, VA
Passaic County Technical Institute – Wayne, NJ
Utah County Academy of Sciences – Orem, UT
Congratulations to all 100 schools, and thank you for your commitment to financial education!
Today we’re featuring a guest post from student Mateja C who explains how FutureSmart helped her learn tricks for shopping wisely and putting that saved money toward college planning. Congrats to Mateja for being one of our scholarship recipients!
Student: Mateja C
Teacher: Andrea Konrath
School: Berlin Middle
Sponsor: MassMutual Foundation
The FutureSmart course taught me how to achieve my dream of being a nautical engineer. I love ships and the ocean, especially when I was really young (I wanted to be a pirate), and would love even more to one day design ships. Now my dream could become a reality. The first step to reaching that dream would be to get a college education. College is expensive, which means you have to find ways to save as soon as possible, along with researching different colleges that have a degree in the field I want.FutureSmart taught me ways to save money on purchases. Just like the kid remodeling his bedroom in the course, I would have to first find price discounts and coupons. That way I can make sure I am getting the best deals. I also know how to tell how biased the source is, which is an important skill. In addition, FutureSmart taught me to make sure I am getting the quality I am paying for. An example within the course helped me see that if something is especially cheap, chances are it is not worth paying less for, since you may spend more in the long run. Thanks to what I learned at FutureSmart, I can put that money towards college, rather than useless items and unnecessary money spent because of lack of saving knowledge.
Saving for a good education isn’t all that I learned from completing the FutureSmart course, though. I am learning how to speak in Norwegian right now because I want to travel to Norway someday. In the FutureSmart course I learned to create a budget for my trip. Unless, of course, if I was going to live in Norway. Then I would just need to save for a plane ticket. The FutureSmart course educated me on how to plan financially for my trip. Furthermore, FutureSmart taught me ways to save the money: Saving money from my job(s), and, as I earlier stated, not spending unnecessary money.
FutureSmart also taught me how to achieve my dream life. Although I have no elaborate plans for my dream life, what I learned would still help enormously. I know necessities before luxuries. An example for what I learned would be: My first priority while going shopping would be a lamp to better do my homework by and my last priority would be a brand-name sweatshirt. Most kids can’t tell the difference between their needs and wants. The FutureSmart course taught me not to fall into that category of kids. Even though my dream life is simple and doesn’t involve anything overly elaborate, I can teach others what I learned. If someone was to say, “I need to buy a house so I have some sort of shelter,” they’d be completely correct and I would not contradict them. But had they said, “I need to have the absolute largest mansion made completely out of gold and silver,” I would correct them in saying that is a want, not a need. If they had taken the FutureSmart course, though, I would not have to even tell them that, since they’d have learned it already.
A huge thanks to the 1,100+ students who participated in the 529 College Savings Scholarship competition! We loved learning how EverFi’s financial education courses have had a positive impact on these students’ lives, and we look forward to sharing a few of those thoughtful and inspiring stories in the coming weeks.
Congratulations to the winners who will each receive a $1,000 529 College Savings Scholarship!
Miranda, Oliver Wendell Holmes High School, Texas
Natalie, Mammoth Heights Elementary, Colorado
Gina, Wallenpaupack Area High School, Pennsylvania
Edgar, Jefferson High School, Illinois
Lauren, Bradley Central High School, Tennessee
Today we’re featuring a guest post from student Grace K who shares how FutureSmart helped her see that being prepared with a financial plan will allow her to achieve her ambitious career goals. Congrats to Grace for being one of our scholarship recipients!
Student: Grace K
Teacher: Danielle Cunningham
School: Falls Lake Academy
State: North Carolina
Sponsor: MassMutual Foundation
“You said you have a dream…That dream…Make it come true! Make your wonderful dream a reality, and it will become your truth! If anyone can, it’s you!” -Pokémon
My name is Grace, and I am currently a student at Falls Lake Academy. Being a student means that college and real world experience are not far away, so there is a great encouragement to look towards my future in order to be well prepared. The eloquent quote above elucidates the importance of setting goals and believing in where they can take you.
I have many goals, dreams, and aspirations, but I’m going to need tools to propel me towards success in my career, financials, and other important aspects of life. I recently acquired some tools from the online resource FutureSmart. FutureSmart taught me vital skills such as saving money for large expenses, choosing a career that is enjoyable and provides good benefits, and how to invest in your interests to maintain both a healthy financial life and life of personal achievement.
My biggest dream is to one day win the Nobel Prize in Physics and to find a cure for diabetes and cancer. This is because cancer and diabetes have impacted my family directly and countless others. With such lofty goals, there will be many steps along the way to get there. The only way to have my dream to become a reality is to work hard and focus on getting a spectacular education.
To accomplish this goal, I used the FutureSmart Lesson #4 “Investing in You” to learn how to best prepare for schooling in the future. My dream school is Princeton University for undergraduate education and Harvard University for my doctoral and post-doctoral education. Being out of state, the tuition will be quite high, so saving now is very important. It is also vital to talk to my school counselor to figure out about what scholarships and financial aid will be available.
After college, my goal is to become a physicist for NASA. However, in planning my career as a physicist, I learned that it is important to make sure that my job has good benefits and insurance. Due to my health issues, medical insurance will be especially important.
For housing, my wish is to live in a nice house in an urban area and have both home and auto insurance. Insurance is something I learned about in FutureSmart Lesson #6: Your Financial Future, be prepared! If something unexpected were to happen, being prepared could save money that can be used in the future. My want for having a successful career and not have to worry about money dictates that it is imperative to begin saving now, especially for college and retirement. You cannot plan for everything in life, but it is necessary to be prepared for the things that can be controlled, such as financial management. These vital skills are ones that I learned from FutureSmart.
Learn more about the FutureSmart financial education course: https://everfi.com/k12/future-smart/
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