Evergreen Federal Bank, Grants Pass, Ore., has partnered with Banzai, a Utah-based financial education software company to provide programs at no-cost to 36 area schools.
Used by over 30,000 teachers nationwide, Banzai’s platform introduces elementary, middle school, and high school students to real-world financial dilemmas. Scenarios include paying rent and auto insurance as well as saving for college and unexpected accidents.
Banzai partners with community banks and credit unions to offer this program at no cost to teachers and students. The program also fulfills many state-mandated requirements for personal finance and financial literacy.
“Providing financial education is a significant way a community bank can help,” Jeff Hyde president, and CEO of Evergreen Federal Bank, said. “We looked into different programs and chose Banzai for their ability to offer programs at elementary, middle, and high school levels. We liked that the program provides both printed and online interactive materials that educate in fun ways. Teachers tell us that their students can finish the program with a better understanding of the importance of budgeting, preparing for emergencies, and spending responsibly.”
Evergreen has sponsored over $9,500 to provide 1,920 students at 36 area schools with access to the Banzai program, which includes 14 elementary schools, six middle schools, five high schools, and eleven alternative or private schools.
“The program came to my attention from Julie Homen who is our branch manager in Rogue River,” Melissa Vierra, Evergreen marketing director, said. “Julie played an important role in getting the program implemented. She continues to interface with representatives at Banzai. While all of the educating is done by school teachers who access the content online, Evergreen staff does interact with teachers to who use the program.”
Founded in 2007 by co-owners Morgan Vandagriff and Kendall Buchanan, Banzai is also getting ready to release a Banzai program for adults, which focuses on mortgage loans and saving for retirement.
“Our goal for Banzai is to educate and inspire students to take their future into their own hands by seeking knowledge and developing positive money habits,” Emily Inman, public relations manager for Banzai, said.
If it’s any evidence that the program has had an impact on area students, it’s through the thank you letters that Evergreen has received.
“When we receive thank you letters from students who have gained a better understanding about making smart financial decisions, we realize this is not just a program, it is a way to give back and support our youth,” Vierra said. “One student thanked Evergreen saying, ‘One thing I learned in Banzai is life has different situations, and you have to manage your money. Some things are important, and you have to put those things first.’”
“As a 7th-grade math teacher, if I can teach my students one thing they will remember it would be finance,” said Melissa Gurr, a teacher at Hanby Middle School in Gold Hill, Ore. “Becoming financially aware and responsible is so important. This program does a great job of teaching the students age-appropriate financial skills.”