Originally posted on The Barron News-Shield
Raising financial awareness and money management skills among area students is the goal of an online “financial literacy” curriculum supported by Community Bank of Cameron, according to a September announcement by the Banzai financial program.
The bank “stepped up to (help pay for) partial or full remote learning in the wake of COVID-19,” said Banzai spokesperson Elisabeth Fitts. “Thanks to their sponsorship, more than 1,600 students and teachers at nine schools in Barron and Burnett counties have free access to Banzai.”
The web-based Banzai platform provides financial literacy and education resources to more than 80,000 teachers nationwide.
It incorporates real-life scenarios such as paying rent, auto insurance, saving for unexpected accidents, college, etc.
Cara Duerkop, Compliance Officer/Internal Auditor for Community Bank of Cameron, did some computer research of her own and explored the Banzai program.
Later, she “brought (the idea) to both our management team and board of directors, who were both in full support.
“As a former educator and now banker, financial literacy is near and dear to my heart,” Duerkop added.
“My dad was a banker, so I grew up in a household where we discussed money management all of the time. However, I quickly learned that not everyone had the same open discussions about money like my family.”
She said the Banzai program “felt like a great resource to start those conversations in our schools. As students get their first job, save for college and eventually buy a home, Banzai helps to break down the basics. The skills they learn can help them become better savers, spenders and money managers for years to come.”
While students learn, teachers can monitor and grade their progress remotely. After finishing Banzai, students will know how to track where their money is and what it’s for, recognize financial trade-offs, build a budget, and more.
“Kids get their own accounts, and they work through assignments that are based on real life,” Morgan Vandagriff, co-founder of Banzai, said.
“But because Community Bank of Cameron is sponsoring it, local schools get it for free. More than ever, it’s important that kids develop sound financial skills to prepare them for the real world, and Community Bank of Cameron realizes that and they’re doing something about it.”
Besides supporting the Banzai platform and its web-based resources, Community Bank of Cameron also offers virtual or in-classroom presentations from local experts on timely topics.