Money Talks: East Side students blaze trail for state’s financial literacy campaign

Published 5:24 pm Friday, November 3, 2017

A handful of Elizabethton elementary school students are ushering in a trend of financial education that could become a vital arrow in the quiver for Northeast Tennessee’s future.
Tennessee State Treasurer David. H. Lillard, Jr., State Financial Literacy Commission Director Bill Parker, and a host of guests were able to view the fruits of labor produced by students Friday morning at East Side Elementary during a presentation of Vault, a financial-learning online program, and how the fourth and fifth grade population at the school has been impacted by its service.
As the state continues to bolster educational resources for residents, including postsecondary opportunities thanks to the Drive to 55 initiative, the treasurer indicated the sense of financial education at the grade-school level is essential for the future of Tennessee.
“Financial literacy is imperative for Tennessee,” he said. “Tennessee has the unfortunate distinction of being the No. 1 state per capita for Chapter 13 wage earnings and bankruptcies. We must reverse this trend for the state’s future.”
Vault – Understanding Money is an online program provided by EVERFI and comes at no cost to schools across the state and fifth grade East Side students were able to provide a hands-on tutorial to visitors inside the gym. Grant funding for Vault is provided by Sen. Rusty Crowe, Rep. David Hawk, who were in attendance Friday, and other legislators help cover a portion of the cost. Other funds to cover the cost is fundraised by Lillard, Jr., who works with corporations across the state. Carter County Bank is one of the key supporters and President Andrew McKeehan was also on hand during the ceremony working with students.
For the youth, Christy Malone, East Side fifth grade teacher, said the response to the program’s first year at the school went over well.
“They are very excited about the program. From the animations, the concepts, it gives more of a meaning to them about financial literacy,” said Malone, who also serves as the vice chair of the Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission (TNFLC) Board.
Lillard, Jr., added the program has been able to train roughly 14,000 students statewide and the goal is to have the program available to surrounding schools in the region.
While high schools already provide a personal finance course, Parker said the sooner the program can get into school systems, the better.
“The program is geared to students from K-8th grade,” Parker said. “We want to get this in as early as possible for students. We want to offer this to surrounding school systems.”
Malone seconded the sentiments of Parker, adding the program can be a key resource for students, teachers and community members.
“We want to plant that seed of savings and career planning,” she said. “It is great for teachers to start using this program. It helps with life, school, money and it ties in with our curriculum, dealing with money, decimals and keeping the students’ interest.”
Lillard, Jr., schools that want to participate in the free program can contact the Treasury at (615) 741-2956.
Free resources are also available to community members, Parker added. A Financial Empowerment Resource Library, which provides financial resources for teachers, has now been published online and can be utilized by citizens at no cost.
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