Youth Take on Financial Literacy

By Jeni Pastier

Each school year, educators and bankers across the country make it a point to talk to today’s youth about the value of financial education. It generates goodwill and good press, and it’s just plan good business. In a technology-driven world, though, implementing these lessons can often be challenging.

What happens when the student becomes the teacher?

Sometimes the best way to learn a subject is to accept the challenge of teaching it to others. That, and making the process fun. Prizes help too. If all that sounds like a lot to implement at your bank, you may be interested to know that just such a program is already available to you.

The American Bankers Association Foundation’s Lights, Camera, Save! program is a student video contest that blends teens’ penchant for digital expression with the many lessons of financial literacy.

For eight years now, Lights, Camera, Save! has been a dynamic vehicle for teens across the country to teach each other the importance of saving and responsible spending. This bank-driven, community-based initiative is meant to inspire students to think about what saving means to them—while communicating it through the power of video.

The results are impressive. Take a look at last year’s top three national winners.

In addition to monetary prizes of up to $5,000 for the budding teen filmmakers, the contest also includes an educator prize component.

Three educators—one from the school of each national teen winner—are awarded a scholarship to attend the Jump$tart’s National Educator Conference. This is the only national conference for classroom teachers dedicated to personal finance education in the classroom. The scholarship includes all conference registration fees, lodging, and conference meals. It’s a testament to the effort the participating educators put into the cause. Not only that, it also creates a ripple effect that gives teachers the tools and best practices to further spread the cause of financial education.

Building momentum for financial education.

Jamie Carfang of West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia, attended the 2016 National Educators Conference in Dallas as one of the educator scholarship recipients, and was impressed by how engaging—and fun—the entire weekend was. According to Carfang, the event was valuable for networking with fellow educators and learning about new tools to help deliver the finance information to her students in new ways.

As an educator with seven years of experience, finding new approaches to teaching personal finance was a welcome benefit of attending the conference. Meeting with conference exhibitors and vendors was one of the highlights, she said. “I have used several of the exhibitor products for years now, and it was great to meet the people behind the products. I got to learn about new ways to use these materials, while also discovering new products.”

Students learn in different ways.

Carfang regularly uses videos in her Economics and Personal Finance class. She knows that videos are a great way to open a lesson or back up classroom discussions with concrete examples that illustrate concepts for the students. “All students learn in different ways, and it is my job as a teacher to make sure to teach in all of those ways. Showing video clips is a great way to show my visual learners the material. When a student is able to use the information I teach them and reteach it to someone else—like in a Lights, Camera, Save! video—or share the details with others in conversation, it shows me that those students have grasped the material and really comprehend the information.”

Host banks will be accepting Lights, Camera, Save! entries through December 1.

So if you’re a participating bank, this is a good time to reach out to your local schools and encourage them to get their students involved.

If you’re not a participating bank—and you’re looking to increase your engagement with the young people in your community—find out how easy it is to get started. ABA Foundation provides free registration, marketing tools, submission forms, and judging materials.

And…ACTION! Learn more.

Jeni Pastier is senior manager, Financial Education, Community Engagement at the American Bankers Association Foundation.  Email: [email protected].