Houghton area schools apply financial skills to K-12 curriculum using free software

Houghton area schools apply financial skills to K-12 curriculum using free software

Loki Jacobson

A new program aimed at helping students learn financial responsibility is being offered to K-12 public school students in the Upper Peninsula.

The program is called Banzai and is being used by teachers from the Houghton public school district as a way of preparing students for financial skills they will need once they graduate high school. Banzai works through a partnership between local credit unions and local K-12 schools, promoting financial education programs with no cost to teachers or students. Banzai has provided services to over 27,000 teachers nationwide.

Emily Inman, public relations manager for Banzai, said she hopes to provide free education on financial literacy to all teachers and students who otherwise might not have the opportunity to learn such things.

“I would like to see students and teachers have the opportunity to benefit from our free financial literacy software. Not many things in life are free but Michigan Tech Employees Credit Union is making that possible for local teachers and students,” Inman said.

Jennifer Ruben, a high school teacher in Houghton, has been integrating the program into her curriculum for high school seniors. Ruben said she found the program was simple and easy to use in her classroom and that it was nice the program comes free of cost.

“I really enjoyed the program as a teacher because of the ease of use. Everything was well laid out and the interface was easy to interact with. It is nice to have a great resource to go to that is free and the students will enjoy,” Ruben said.

She also said her students thought the program was very useful in helping them understand financial responsibility. Although it seemed to be geared towards younger students, Ruben said the Banzai program helped bring in class discussions that connected to other topics her class were already learning about.

“My students did enjoy this, however, we did find it a bit easy. It did spur many great topics and discussions that connected other things that we were covering in class. Overall, it was a great activity and I plan to use it again in the future,” Ruben said.

She recommends other teachers to use the program if their schools do not already offer a personal finance class, and even if they do, Ruben added it is a useful tool to find a connection from the class to real world examples.

At the end of completing the Banzai program students are given $50 toward a checking account to apply the skills they have learned from the program.

“Once adulthood starts, bills don’t ever stop. Whether it’s rent, auto insurance or unexpected accidents, bills are constant. I don’t think adolescents are educated enough on the simple basics of finance and Banzai can fix that,” Inman said.

More information about the Banzai program can be found at: http://www.sacfcu.com/banzai-financial-literacy-program.php.