Originally ran through Brownwood Bulletin
A free financial literacy program being used at several area high schools through the sponsorship of an Abilene area credit union is also available at no charge to teachers.
The online program called Banzai may be of particular interest to educators now because April is National Financial Literacy, Emily Inman, public relations manager of Banzai based in Provo, Utah, said.
While the service area of Community of Abilene Federal Credit Union does not extend to Brown County, the Banzai program itself is available to all teachers at no charge, through its website, www.teachbanzai.com. Information is available on its Facebook page.
Pauline Reese of Communities of Abilene Federal Credit Union said the institution’s service area extends into 10 counties that include Callahan, Coleman, and Eastland. The financial literacy program is currently in use by teachers in schools like Coleman, Abilene and Miles, among others.
Reese said the financial institution’s sponsorship covers the cost of teacher fees and related supplies, which teachers using the program might wish to have support the computer program.
“Banzai is a financial literacy course that’s used by 27,000 teachers nationwide to help students become better stewards of the money,” Inman told the Bulletin. “Banzai partners with local banks and credit unions to make this tool completely free for teachers and students.”
“Banzai incorporates real-life scenarios like paying rent, auto insurance, saving for unexpected accidents, college, and more. The scenarios presented are situations that (students) will encounter one day.”
Inman said the Banzai program also fulfills many states’ mandated requirements for personal finance and financial literacy.
“And it’s a completely free tool,” Inman said. “The Banzai program helps students prepare for the future.”
In addition to the program targeted for secondary school students, a separate Banzai program is available for use in elementary schools. Inman said the program for younger students was introduced at the first of this year, and has been well-received by teachers at that level.
Trudy Simpson, teachers at Miles Junior High School in Runnels County, said she has never seen her students so enthused about a financial literacy program.
“Most of my students begged me to create another password and username for them, so they could have another go around on Banzai Math,” Simpson told the Bulletin. “As many of my students discovered, life can be really harsh. I have never heard so much chatter about the best way to save for college, which type of housing to live, or whether you should go out with friends or work an extra hour at your job.”
“I turned them loose and they totally enjoyed all the learning going on in my room.”
An Abilene Cooper High School teacher said students in her Career Prep work program use the program during the Business Math unit.
“I like to prepare my students for the real world in the curriculum I teach since all my students already have jobs,” said Sherry Stewart, business and department chair of business and technical education.
“Since my students already receive paychecks, Banzai helps teach them how to manage their finances.”
“In the Banzai program, they allot a portion of each paycheck to different “jars” to help budget their money in the correct categories of how they plan to spend the money. Then, they are given 30-plus transactions to pay or deposit. The must choose how to pay – cash, check, or credit card – and choose which jar to take the money from.”
Stewart explained that the program does not allow students to move forward to the next transaction until they get the current transaction correct.
“It also gives them reconciliation forms along the way to stimulate real banking procedures,” Stewart added.
National Financial Literacy Month is recognized in the United States in April in an effort to highlight the importance of financial literacy and teach Americans how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.
The National Endowment for Financial Education introduced Youth Financial Literacy Day in 2000 and turned it over to the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy and its approximately 150 partners so the event wouldn’t promote any one organization, focusing instead on financial literacy as a whole. The coalition expanded the observance to a full month.
The U.S. Senate in 2003 designated April as The Financial Literacy for Youth Month. The next year, the Senate passed officially recognized April as National Financial Literacy Month.
Many financial institutions and nonprofit financial educational organizations promote the month with special events and distributions of educational materials encouraging effective ways to handle money and debt.