October 21, 2013

Program teaches students about money in the real world

Credit union makes financial literary materials available to teachers.

By Amie Sites

---- — Through Beacon Credit Union, a financial literacy program has been made available to county teachers at no charge. Called Banzai, the program teaches high school and middle school students financial concepts through real-life scenarios.

It aims to provide solutions that students will need post-graduation.

In the program, students are given a job, a checking and savings account, and are given paychecks as well as days to get gas, go to concerts and go out to eat.

Diann Vernon, of Century Career Center in Logansport, has had experience using the Banzai program.

“Some students don’t keep track of what they spend with debit cards and just look at online statements,” Vernon said. “They don’t realize what is posted online isn’t necessarily what’s actually there. The program goes through that.”

Shelby Schuh, of Beacon Credit Union, said there is both an online and booklet component to the program. Beacon Credit Union pays for the program and makes it available for any teacher who wants it in the classroom, Schuh said.

“To my understanding, financial literacy is not a requirement in the classrooms,” Schuh said. “The program teaches basic skills about keeping a budget and why it’s so important. We’re very excited to be providing that.”

Most, if not all, states have financial literacy built into their education system curriculum, but with tight budgets at schools, it’s hard for teachers to have proper materials for teaching finance skills, said Kevin Peterson, communications and media specialist for Banzai.

“Providing information and materials for free to teachers will help,” Peterson said.

Vernon usually uses the program once a year, around February. Beacon Credit Union sponsored Vernon’s class and purchased work books for the students. A representative from Beacon Credit Union also came and gave a presentation to the class, Vernon said.

The program also covers insurance, taxes and credit cards.

“They get out on their own and so many don’t have an idea how to budget,” Vernon said. “This class would be even better suited for sophomores because that’s the time they start jobs, checking accounts.”

Teachers interested in signing up or learning more can visit

Schuh said there has been a huge response and the program has been offered at 32 schools. The program is also offered, through other Beacon Credit Union, to other counties.

Vernon said teaching skills to the students is important.

“I like it because it does real-life situations,” Vernon said. “It’s not over the top or hard to understand. It’s for the average person to be able to make it on their own financially.”

Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or Follow her: @PharosAES.