Before an audience of her Richland High School peers, Lauren Hill debates the merits of saving versus investing. Other topics include student loan repayment strategies, selecting a college major and a career, and renting versus buying a home. The crowd pays attention.

A few months ago, they may not have. But after taking financial literacy classes – and hearing Hill’s oratory – the crowd is attentive and emotionally invested. As is Hill, of course.

“When you are fighting for something you believe, it’s natural and it flows,” Hill said. “Being financially literate – it’s what you are going to have to use for the rest of your life.”

Richland High School students passionately debate various financial topics. The competition was the culmination of a year-long program of financial classes provided by Regions and EverFi.

The classes are provided by Regions and EverFi through a revolutionary program called Regions Next Step

“We provide the resource and Regions has the support and the community involvement that’s right here in Jackson, Mississippi,” said Laura Adriansen, EverFi’s Region Director for online financial education content.

Tina Craft teaches the classes to her Business Academy students at the suburban school in Mississippi’s capital city. According to Craft, financial literacy provides skills the students need now and – whether they realize it or not – will need in the future.

Mississippi State Treasurer Lynn Fitch emphasizes financial literacy across the state. After listening to the debate, she reveals why it matters.

“It’s a true life skill,” Fitch said, noting that the more students are empowered by money, “the better off they will be – no matter what career they choose to participate in, whatever their pathway in life. Understanding money makes them a better person for the future.”