Since 2010, Beneficial State Bank (previously Pan American Bank), headquartered in Oakland, California, has used Money Smart to teach financial education workshops in more than 30 locations—including high schools, colleges and conferences—throughout the state. The sessions have reached more than 14,000 participants, from students to baby boomers, over the last six years.
At Porterville High School in Porterville, California, students are taught all eight modules of Money Smart for Young Adults. The bank’s Money Smart program also offers students at the school’s Porterville Academy of Business and Finance (PAB) “a unique opportunity to learn how to manage their finances in a friendly and interactive setting that helps them remember these skills for life,” according to Michele Halopoff, the PAB director. “Financial literacy is such an important part of a student's education, but is often overlooked.”
Rafael C. Rogel, the bank’s corporate trainer who for the past two years has taught the students at the PAB, added, “We establish a good rapport with the students, thereby having a more significant impact on the students’ financial education.”
Rogel explained his tips for successfully teaching financial education:
- Create an empathetic environment. Rogel found this strategy is especially important when teaching high school and college students. “The more you exude warmth, respect, confidence and enthusiasm, the more likely your audience will be engaged and be in an optimal learning environment. The students will feel empowered to use the financial skills they’ve learned,” he said.
- Know your audience. “Take the time to do some research about their cultural and economic backgrounds as well as their age range,” he said. “This will allow you to set a tone during your lessons and use the appropriate humor and story-telling strategies, which are great tools to keep the audience’s attention and establish an emotional connection.” The modules selected for college students are based on the needs of the students. For example, “Money Matters” and “Charge It Right” are two modules he often uses with these audiences.
- Remember that it is never too late to learn. Rogel said that adults experience a “reality check” after participating in the Money Smart lessons. “It is very typical for some of them to express their regret in not having been taught financial literacy years ago, and they often believe that their financial situation would be much better now if they had. However, many are appreciative for the opportunity to learn the skills to improve their current financial situation.”
- Teach the history of the FDIC. “Many people do not know what the FDIC does or why it was created,” Rogel explained. He uses information from the FDIC's history exhibit and a PowerPoint presentation he developed to provide a brief overview of the important role the agency has played throughout the years to protect consumers.
“Without a doubt, it is a very rewarding and motivating experience for our bank to receive comments from the students that they learned a lot and have benefitted from the sessions,” Rogel said. “Not surprisingly, we have received similar feedback from their parents and family members after their children have shared what they learned with them.”
Miriam Ledesma, a freshman PAB student at Porterville High School shared her experience in the Money Smart program: “What I learned during Mr. Rogel’s presentations was how to keep your money safe in a bank. I also learned how to use an ATM responsibly and access money when I need it, as well as how to record transactions and how to write a check.”
Alyssa Mata, a junior, said, “I thought that it helped me understand more about how car loans work and how to better understand FAFSA [the government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid]. I should get started earlier rather than procrastinating about getting ready for paying for college.”
Many students show their appreciation for the work Rogel does in the classroom, as emphasized by one student’s home-made thank you card: