Guidewell Financial Solutions Applauds MCEE Student Financial Literacy Programs
Nonprofit agency Guidewell Financial Solutions recently attended the annual MCEE Awards banquet where K-12 students were recognized for gaining financial knowledge and skills. The agency is pleased to sponsor the Poster Contest and MD Personal Finance Challenge, two programs that provide students with money management lessons they can use for the rest of their lives.
At the event, Guidewell Financial Solutions’ Resource Development Manager Devon Hyde said, “Starting early is critical, because people take on financial responsibility earlier now than ever. Teens move from savings accounts to checking accounts, and before they know it, they’re considering student loans. Obviously the sooner they understand how money works, the better chance they’ll have to make wise financial decisions.”
Financial literacy clearly helps students prepare for the future. To document its impact, we recently interviewed two students who have participated in MCEE-hosted financial literacy activities Guidewell Financial Solutions co-sponsors:
- Jamia Cherry, a third grader at Robert R. Gray Elementary School, is one of the 1,500 students who participated in the 2015 Poster Contest. The contest was developed to help teachers stimulate interest in economics and personal finance.
- Eddie Lee participated in the Maryland Personal Finance Challenge two years ago as a senior at Howard County Public School System’s Academy of Finance (AOF). This competition gives middle and high school students throughout the State the opportunity to demonstrate their personal finance knowledge.
Here are their stories:
* Jamia’s Story
When Jamia’s teacher Yvonne Manteen first heard about the Poster Contest at a MCEE Teacher Summit, she decided this could be a unique learning experience for her students. “We had already talked about how to distinguish wants vs. needs, savings, budgeting, and ways to earn income. This seemed like an excellent chance for them to demonstrate their understanding of these concepts. It gave them a tangible way to express themselves and to show what they had learned.”
Jamia’s grandmother, Dorothy Luckett-Washington, agrees. She believes the poster competition was particularly useful, because it gave students a concrete chance to clarify and reinforce their knowledge. She says, “Jamia is definitely a visual learner. Somehow putting a pencil to paper makes things more real. Drawing the poster encouraged her ask herself, ‘What can I do to make money? How can I earn income?’ It helped her collect her thoughts and bring them to life.”
Yvonne says collaboration also played an important role in the process. “In class when my students brainstormed and shared ideas, they became inspired. They also learned there’s more than one way to look at things.” This group dynamic carried forward throughout the competition. Asked what she liked best about the awards banquet, Jamia said, “Meeting other poster winners and seeing other posters. It gave me more things to think about and draw.”
Beyond visualization and collaboration, what did Jamia gain from this experience? Dorothy believes Jamia’s participation in the contest and a local youth business program has made her much more outgoing and confident. She adds, “She has also developed a plan for owning and running her own dance studio. She already has two students, so she’s feeling empowered. A seed has been planted. It’s exciting to see it grow!”
* Eddie’s Story
When Eddie Lee participated in the 2013 Maryland Personal Finance Challenge, he never expected it would lead to long-term financial insights or a new job. However, he's already begun to use the financial skills he learned.
His former teacher, Dr. Maddy Halbach, notes that students involved in the Challenge study spending, credit, savings, investing, income, and money management for an entire year. She says, “Because this study is so in-depth, it helps them comprehend the subject matter at different levels and embeds an understanding of how to apply it.”
Eddie agrees. “The things I learned preparing for the Challenge have influenced my personal money decisions since graduating and starting college at UMBC. It gave me a foundation and skills I can really use. For example, I probably have a clearer understanding of what’s involved when you take out a loan than many people my age, because we reviewed opportunity costs and the responsibilities of borrowing.”
Experiences like those of Jamia and Eddie underscore how personal finance education benefits people of all ages. Guidewell Financial Solutions salutes MCEE’s efforts and emphasizes you’re never too old to learn.