At McKinley High School, teacher Janice Stewart has seen the conversation change, all thanks to an interactive and engaging digital approach to financial education.
“I see more students being conscientious about how they spend (money) and what they spend it on,” Stewart said. “They talk about what they can buy, and what they can’t buy. They don’t necessarily rely on their parents for everything, and that is teaching them responsibility.”
Located in the East Baton Rouge Parish of Louisiana, McKinley is just one of the local high schools offering digital learning from the Regions Bank Financial Scholars Program, a partnership with Washington, D.C.-based EverFi, Inc.
According to Jim Kim, EverFi’s vice-president for national partnerships, the goal of this financial education program is to expose students to key fundamental money management topics as an integrated part of their high school coursework.
“Things like understanding credit scores, financing higher education, how to make a budget – so that when they go outside the walls of their high school, it will feel familiar,” Kim said.
Throughout East Baton Rouge Parish, the ongoing program is reaching high school students and preparing them for life after school with real-world lessons and scenarios.
“Digital learning programs help students focus on the life-skills needed to be successful, allowing them to make good decisions and to thrive in the future,” Kim said.
Ronnie Pocorello, the director of Career Technology Education for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, said teaching financial education fits a mission statement of “One team, one vision.”
“With EverFi and financial literacy, we empower students to be life-long learners, to the point where what they learn today is something they will carry throughout their life,” Pocorello said. In return, the students can be financially responsible adults who are able to achieve their dreams and their goals.
Seeing the moment everything clicks is where the reward comes for Tynya Veal, a teacher at Tara High School.
As I observed the kids, and heard them talking amongst themselves, that’s when I realized it was a life-long moment for them,” Veal said. “It also gives kids a solid foundation on how money works for them.”
Thomas Calmes is the Regions At School coordinator in Baton Rouge. He sees the impact on a regular basis, with students in class and as they go through EverFi’s graduation ceremonies.
At these graduation ceremonies, as students are recognized and receive certificates for completing the program, Calmes likes to ask a question: What was the most important takeaway for students?
The answers are consistent. Students understand banking better, and they feel more comfortable and confident managing their money as they go forward in life.
“I thought the program was awesome,” said Joseph Ashford, a student at Broadmoor High. “I feel I actually know what I’m doing financially and in saving for college and my future.”
Jon Davies, the head of Community Affairs for Regions, said it’s not enough for Regions to simply write a check for a financial education program. Instead, the real benefit is in being involved and committed to the program.
“Our partnership between Regions and EverFi is a perfect example of that, where we mutually work together for the betterment of the community,” Davies said. “For financial education, for our young people, for adults, it shows we are doing more.”