New program teaches money literacy
April is National Financial Literacy month in the United States, an ideal time for students to learn some of the money management skills needed to navigate the ‘real world.’ To help teachers build financial management curriculum in their classrooms, Wings Financial Credit Union has partnered with Banzai to bring a free program to interested schools in many parts of Hennepin, Dakota and Ramsey counties.
“We feel that it’s an important piece because of the fact that this is a real life lesson. Sometimes kids don’t get that at home. The life scenarios by Banzai are a good fit for what we have to do,” said Trysh Olson, Wings’ Education and Youth Programs Manager. “The kids go through the booklet and read the information, then do a simulation. The second part is more of a game, where they have to take what they learned in the first part of the program and actually make their own decisions with a budget. It’s more like real life.”
Many teachers site lack of funding and time throughout the day as barriers to meaningful financial literacy education, though as many of the children who grew up in the throes of the Great Recession enter adulthood, parents, educators and financial professionals alike seem to note the wisdom of instilling good saving and spending habits early. A perk of the Banzai program is Wings’ complete sponsorship: teachers need only express interest in receiving sample materials — no grant applications are required.
Students using the program are exposed to real-life scenarios where they learn to pay bills and balance a budget, while also juggling unexpected expenses such as parking tickets, interest charges and overdraft fees. The program also introduces students to auto loans, bank statements, entertainment costs and savings.
Banzai is an interactive online program, and students can attempt the program multiple times until they are satisfied with a balanced budget. Within the last two years, Wings has provided materials to 3,720 students at 31 schools in Minnesota. Banzai’s curriculum is used by over 14,000 teachers in all 50 states, and currently Wings Financial CU is sponsoring 265 schools nationally.
Teachers interested in using the Banzai program can visit teachbanzai.com or call 888-8-BANZAI.