Originally posted on chronicle-tribune.com
Teachers across Grant County are making use of a tool made available through Afena FCU and Banzai Inc.
The program, called Banzai, is used to provide students the tools needed to teach them financial literacy and money management skills.
The sponsorship between the two entities has made it possible to bring the program to students free of charge, which is something that local teachers have benefited from.
"That's pretty nice because our budgets are always tight and a lot of times teachers buy their own materials and stuff, so that's a nice supplement to our own text," Marion Regional Career Center business teacher Jean Wright said.
Wright said she uses the program specifically at the start of the calendar year, as that is when people are typically thinking about their finances and preparing for tax season.
"We start out at the beginning of the year in January talking about habits that make us successful," said Wright. "That leads us into budgeting and banking. We talk about the different bank accounts and what they can get. Then that leads us to Banzai, which is an online banking simulation."
This simulation is one of the ways the lessons provided translate from the classroom into real world skills.
Being an online program, Banzai provides additional benefit to teachers, especially when dealing with the adjustment to mixed virtual/in- person class, according to Wright.
"It's good for that, because we can do it as a live exercise where we work on it together," said Wright. "Then once the students that are at home are logged on to Google Meet and the students here are participating, we can work on it together. They can also do it on their own if they miss a class."
Each of the students learns to manage their own finances through the business simulation. It teaches them personal finance lessons though the "envelope system" of budgeting, which helps students learn to balance their budget each month.
Wright said students have reacted to using the program in a positive way, saying that some move on from the teen version of the program to the more advanced version that also adds factors like car payments, mortgages and unexpected expenses.
The program is now available to teachers at six schools across Grant County, and if each teacher elected to to use the program, it would be available to as many as 1,000 area students.
"Thanks to Afena FCU, area students will now have access to a wide array of courses and resources designed to help prepare them for our increasingly complex world," Morgan Vandagriff, co-founder of Banzai, said in a press release. "We wouldn't be able to provide these tools without their support."