Camelot’s Excel Academy of South Shore Students Getting Lessons in Financial Literacy
Students at Camelot’s Excel Academy of South Shore are taking part in a series of financial literacy sessions designed to help young people make better decisions concerning their money when they’re adults and gain an understanding of how the credit system works.
The program, called Stack Coins & Build Financial Wealth – Learn the Game from the Experts, is hosting a series of financial literacy sessions at the school every Tuesday in October. The first hour-long class was held October 1 and is sponsored by C.A.R.E. (Credit Abuse Resistance Education) – a national program founded in 2002 by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge John C. Ninfo.
Presenters are all financial experts in their respective fields; some are bankruptcy lawyers, judges, experts in credit card debt, or work for financial lender Sallie Mae.
Tirrell Taylor, director of student services at Excel Academy of South Shore, said the program is a requirement for graduation but also said it is a life requirement.
“This isn’t a program just for our students – it’s available for their parents too. Our perspective here at Excel Academy says we can’t educate the students and leave out the parents. It really does take a village to raise a child,” Taylor said. “By doing this, the parents will also be able to help their kids. This is inside knowledge of how our financial system works. I’m a first generation college graduate and for my family, it was trial and error. We made a lot of mistakes, and I want our students to be able to avoid those mistakes. The overall goal is that when they graduate from college, they can graduate debt free.”
Gene Volchek, senior vice president, data science and analytics for TransUnion Global Operations is one of the volunteers and said he was impressed with the level of interest and attention from students at Excel Academy of South Shore.
“We gave the presentation during their lunch hour, and they were very engaged,” he said. “They asked a lot of questions, and some even stayed afterwards to ask more questions. The whole point of doing this is to raise awareness, offer the attendees information, and give them tools to help navigate the financial system.”
Volchek said the typical presentation lasts an hour. The content is prepared by the national C.A.R.E. organization and then tailored for local chapters. The volunteers, all experts in their respective fields, begin by observing other volunteers during presentations before they engage the students. They’re encouraged to personalize their presentation and use their own experiences in order to relate to the attendees.
“Typically this kind of information is really grasped in areas where it’s not needed as much, like the suburban schools,” Volcheck said. “But we do this because it’s really necessary in disadvantaged communities, which is why our volunteers are encouraged to personalize their presentations to make the information accessible. We’re teaching the students how to monitor their credit history and how to initiate disputes if there’s an error. We also give them information about useful websites for college scholarships.”
According an article on the website the Center for American Progress, “about 43 million adult Americans—roughly one-sixth of the U.S. population older than age 18—currently carry a federal student loan and owe $1.5 trillion in federal student loan debt.”
Taylor said students who plan on advancing to college can lower their future debt through grants, scholarships, and subsidized loans. But of course, the fewer loans they have, the better. He also said that, while the material is probably new to most of the students and parents, it’s not all about student loan debt.
“Every student doesn’t want to go on to college,” Taylor said. “However, they’re going to need to know how the credit system works; eventually they’re going to want to buy a car or a house. They need to know about identity theft. There’s a saying – ‘cash flows but credit rules.’ These lessons will help them determine their future credit rating and how to improve it. Importantly, we guide them through the sessions so we can gauge where they’re at in terms of understanding the ideas and concepts.”
Student Janaya Taylor, 15, especially appreciated the information. She plans to be a veterinarian. “I found the first session very informative. I’m going to be in school eight more years after high school so understanding alternatives to loans is a lesson well worth learning,” she said.
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