Three local nonprofits partner to bring financial education training to West Brunswick High School students.

Understanding money and how to make smart financial decisions can profoundly impact a person’s life, and financial experts agree that learning these skills early if life is the key to having money confidence as an adult.

Financial education is so important that the State of North Carolina passed a law in June 2019 requiring all high school seniors to complete a financial education course before graduating. The financial education training will become mandatory for high schools beginning in September 2020.

Ahead of that deadline, three Brunswick County organizations have teamed up to bring financial education training to students at West Brunswick High School (WBHS) in the current school year. Kiwanis Club of Shallotte-South Brunswick Islands, Brunswick County Literacy Council and Brunswick Family Assistance (BFA) are offering the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Money Smart Financial Education Program to WBHS sophomores and juniors. The program teaches the students the skills and knowledge they need to manage their current and future finances responsibly.

“We are pleased that students will have an opportunity to learn tools and skills that will help them make smart financial decisions and handle their money better,” says WBHS Assistant Principal Dale Giannatasio, who is coordinating the program at the school.

The sophomores are taking four courses: Bank On It, covering banking services and products and various types of deposit accounts; Check It Out, teaching students how to write checks, manage a checking account and reconcile their checkbooks as well as covering online and mobile banking services; Setting Financial Goals, explaining how to manage money by preparing personal spending plans (budgets), tracking and recording expenses and decreasing spending; and Pay Yourself First, teaching the importance of saving for financial well-being, how to set savings goals, the magic of compound interest and how to spend wisely.

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The juniors receive training in two units: Charge It Right, explaining the differences between credit and debit cards, credit card terms and conditions and related consumer protection laws, and how to use credit cards responsibly; and Financing College Education, addressing different types of consumer loans, the various costs of college, financial aid opportunities and tips for managing student loans.

Twenty-two sophomore classes and 19 junior classes, a total of almost 700 students, began the Financial Education Program on December 10 and will continue on various days through March 31, 2020. Classes are 30 minutes in length. Each student will receive a binder of materials that complements the curriculum and serves as a reference resource.

“Bringing financial training to schools has been a long-standing goal of our agency and we are glad to be part of the effort to make it happen,” says Dot Hoerr, executive director of Brunswick Literacy Council.

Representatives of local banks, credit unions and other financial services institutions are teaching the Money Smart curriculum. Tutors from the Literacy Council, a representative from the Shallotte-South Brunswick Island Kiwanis Club and a retired CPA are helping out as well.

The partnership of the Kiwanis Club, Literacy Council and BFA would like to grow the program into other schools and venues in Brunswick County. Charles Jackson, chief operating officer at BFA, is excited about revamping and reestablishing the financial education program that BFA offers to its clients and expanding the program’s reach to all county residents. In addition, the partnership plans to meet with representatives of the superintendent to discuss the possibility of collaborating with the Brunswick County School System to develop the financial education curriculum to meet the new state requirement and offer the FDIC Money Smart Program as a good starting point.

The partnership thanks the following financial institutions for their enthusiastic support in making this endeavor possible: Bank of America, CresCom Bank, Edward Jones, First Bank, First National Bank, Local Government Federal Credit Union, State Employees Credit Union, South State Bank and Wells Fargo Bank.

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