Classes on financial literacy and personal finance management have become more popular in high schools and colleges across the U.S. following the economic crisis of the late 2000s.
While not required by the state, some high schools in New York do offer students courses to help them manage their personal finances. To help encourage financial literacy in local young people, the Northern Credit Union now sponsors the Teach Banzai program for local schools.
Assistant Vice President of Marketing at Northern Credit Union Alexa B. Bennett said that her organization sponsors Teach Banzai “because financial empowerment is so fundamental to an individual’s success.”
Pulaski business and computers instructor Amy J. LaDue said she has been using the program for about four years, and has found that it makes many financial concepts more accessible for her high school students. “We’ll spend about three class periods using the simulations,” Mrs. LaDue said, “and by the end, the students can really feel like they know where their money is going.”
The simulation has students move money from a checking jar, much like a checking account, into other jars representing monthly payments. Mrs. LaDue and Ms. Bennett both said they feel financial literacy is important to emphasize at school because students may not learn about it at home. “This type of education is often taught (or not taught more frequently) at home,” Ms. Bennett said in an email. “Studies have shown the earlier children learn financial education, before they ‘need it,’ the smarter decisions they make.”
Mrs. LaDue said over the course of her 20-year tenure at Pulaski Central School District, she has seen more students come into personal finance courses with confusion.
“There are lots of students asking questions we might assume they already know the answer to,” she said.
The Banzai program has a pre-test to determine students’ knowledge base, and a post-test to measure its growth after using the program. Emily Inman, the public relations manager at Teach Banzai, said the goal of the program “is for students to finish Banzai with a better understanding of the importance of budgeting, preparing for emergencies, and spending responsibly.”
The Copenhagen, Carthage and Hermon-DeKalb school districts also use Teach Banzai.
The Northern Credit Union also partners with Cornell Cooperative Extension to provide a similar program, called Mad City Money, to local school districts.