COMMUNITY VOICES: Developing life-long skills through financial literacy
Aaron Lessard visits the Education Booth to discuss continuing education and students loans with Melissa Pacheco, Westport School Committee member and Senior Program Specialist at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth during Westport High’s Credit for Life Fair on April 11.
As a member of the community, BayCoast Bank happily sponsors and promotes many regional events but perhaps none so enthusiastically as when we partner with area high schools to offer financial literacy programs that educate beyond the traditional classroom.
One such opportunity is the Common Cents program organized by the Massachusetts Bankers Association, which invites students to participate in an educational game show that is filmed for use in classrooms across the state. It was our pleasure to send 14 students from the SouthCoast to this year’s Common Cents program.
The importance of bestowing our young people early on with the educational tools needed to thrive and prosper cannot be overstated. Financial literacy is one of the greatest investments a society can make in the community, yet currently there is not a mandated financial education curriculum in Massachusetts high schools.
Recognizing this gap in the curriculum, a Financial Literacy Pilot Program was established by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2012 to test the potential viability of installing financial education programs in all Massachusetts high schools in a quest to provide students with the personal finance skills necessary to succeed in life. This three-year pilot program is underway in 10 high schools throughout the commonwealth, one of which is our very own B.M.C. Durfee High School in Fall River.
A key component of the pilot program, as well as every other financial literacy initiative currently available, is the collaboration between schools and the community. That’s where the many financial services institutions and businesses in the SouthCoast region can help make a difference — by partnering with schools and civic groups to sponsor events that promote the value of basic financial concepts, such as balancing a check book, creating and living within a budget and saving for the future.
Participation in “Credit for Life Fairs” is one significant way for banks and businesses to step up to the plate and provide financial literacy for youth. Over the course of the school year, several local high schools — B.M.C. Durfee, New Bedford High, New Bedford Vocational, Dartmouth High and Westport High — will host these three hour events, which will provide students with a highly interactive financial literacy experience by placing them in the position of young adults in charge of making their own purchase and daily living decisions.
Students will visit various booths manned by members of the business community and face the challenge of balancing their budgets while making sound decisions regarding adult daily expenses, including housing, food, insurance, transportation and saving for retirement.