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Banking on the Future

Schools are designed to teach today’s youth the basics: reading, writing, arithmetic, science, and history. But there’s one subject that most students aren’t being taught in the classroom: financial literacy.

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From learning how to create a budget and understanding how and why you should save money to navigating credit and keeping your identity safe, introducing financial literacy early equips the next generation to make smart choices when it comes to financial security.

As one of the oldest bank charters in Texas, Sonora Bank understands the importance of financial literacy. That’s why we have partnered with Banzai, an award-winning financial literacy program. Since its inception in 2010, Banzai has become the largest program of its kind. More than 35,000 teachers in all 50 states use the program, which is aligned to state curriculum requirements.

“Far too often students get out school without the necessary tools to make smart financial decisions. They graduate without established credit and can quickly get in over their heads.” said Mike Schulz, Chief Operating Officer at Sonora Bank. “We were looking for a way to partner with schools in our communities to deliver financial literacy in a way that was engaging for students, and Banzai was a great fit. We are thrilled we are able to provide much-needed financial literacy programming at no cost.”

Sonora Bank is currently making the web-based curriculum available to schools in Boerne, Bulverde, San  Angelo and Sonora.

With education aimed at teaching children ages 8-18 to save, budget, and navigate life’s financial dilemmas, participants learn sound financial skills that will prepare them for the real world. To keep pace with today’s advanced technology trends, Banzai utilizes a gamified, “choose your own adventure” approach that allows students to prioritize their spending decisions, while the real-life simulations illustrate financial concepts in a fun and engaging way.

“Banzai’s defining feature is our ability to deepen the relationships our partners have with the schools in their community,” said Morgan Vandagriff, co-founder of Banzai. “Sonora Bank truly recognizes the impact of empowering the next generation to be strong financial stewards. We are excited to work with Sonora Bank to improve financial literacy in local schools.”

Students start with an initial pre-test to get a baseline for financial literacy. They then get their own virtual bank accounts and engage in a multitude of real-life, age-based scenarios that cover everything from paying rent to unanticipated vehicle expenses. Based on the age of the student, they must “earn money” by opening a lemonade stand or getting a job and then learn to manage unexpected expenses such as parking tickets, interest charges, and emergencies. The educational program introduces students to the concepts of sales tax, withholding, auto loans, bank statement, overdraft fees, entertainment costs, savings, and more. Throughout the program, they face the temptation to misspend their income and the consequences for those choices. At the end of the program, students take a post-test to measure improvement in their understanding of financial literacy.

Banzai interactive courses are fun and FREE. Go ahead.