An Introduction to Financial Literacy, Southern Style

afad-iccEarlier this month Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) Director, Betty Ann Falkner, traveled north to bring financial education to her hometown school, Ichabod Crane Central, in Valatie, NY.  Betty Ann conceived the idea of sharing CFSFC’s popular “Adult for a Day” (AFAD) workshop at her former high school after speaking with some former classmates and her grandson who is a senior at the school.

Ichabod Crane High School students in the Economics classes participated in financial literacy workshops on October 3-4. Students experienced a snapshot of adulthood through AFAD, an interactive simulation in which they moved through 11 budget stations to spend money setting up their household after receiving their first jobs. They made decisions for things they will need and can afford, like housing, transportation and insurance to non-necessities like entertainment and vacations. They also learned about life events and their impact on even the most well-planned spending.

“I wanted to give back to my high school and give teens a kick start for the future,” Ms. Falkner said. “By providing them some life skills and guidance I hope this will help them make good financial decisions they will carry on into their adulthood.”

afad-icc5What Students Had to Say:

“I learned to be open to all the expenses I need to be aware of.”
“I learned the importance of taking care of your needs before your wants.”
“I learned how your credit score affects all basic things you purchase in life.”
“I learned how fast money goes!”
“I learned that sometimes you need to make sacrifices to save money.”




Volunteers share:

“I was lucky enough to be invited to volunteer for one of the Adult for the day classes. I could tell that the students were really paying attention by the questions that they asked. I think they enjoyed the class as much as we did.”-Diane M.

“I felt this is a wonderful program for these young students. I even learned some things. The students seemed to really think about what actually happens in the real world with how to handle money. This is absolutely a great class. Very informative and needed!!!” –June E.

2016 Scholarship Winners Announced

The Center for Smart Financial Choices S.A.P. P. Institute is pleased to announce the five winners from its 2016 Financial Education Scholarship competition. After a lengthy and formal review by our selection committee, the following applicants were chosen based on their hard work and potential to succeed in higher education.


The adult scholarship award of $2000 goes to Stephanie Martin, a current freshman at UNC Chapel Hill working towards a BS in Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Medical Anthropology. The selection committee was particularly impressed with her realistic yet ambitious vision for her future in the medical field, her strong articulation of financial lessons learned and the value of the scholarship classes, and her dedication to community service and demonstration of leadership skills. They have no doubt that she will make it in the medical field and felt confident awarding her the $2000 to help her achieve her educational goals.

Greizy Beckles is the recipient of our Hispanic/Latino scholarship award of $2000. Greizy is in her second year at UNC Greensboro pursuing a degree in Social Work with hopes of being able to give back to her community. The selection committee was impressed by this young lady’s practical and meaningful essay which highlighted the steps she has already taken to building and maintaining good credit and utilizing a budget to plug spending leaks. She is living out the principle of saving more money than she spends in order to become financially stable.

The top youth scholarship award of $2000 goes to Marie Carroll, a young lady currently attending West Forsyth High School with plans of attending either UNC Chapel Hill or Northwestern University to pursue a BA in Economics. From being an accomplished cello player to studying Korean in Seoul for a summer to being the President of the Science Honors Society, she will be entering college with a wide array of life experiences and accomplishments—including an unweighted GPA of 3.98. The selection committee admired her detailed plan for saving money during college and graduating without extreme debt and were thrilled to offer her the $2000 award to continue her educational dreams.

One of our $1000 youth scholarship awards goes to Jake Gigliotti, a current student at Early College of Forsyth County with plans to attend either UNC Chapel Hill or Princeton to study Biology. He will be graduating high school with an unweighted GPA of 4.0 and the selection committee had no misgivings about his ability to complete a difficult course of study at either of these prestigious universities. They were impressed with his drive, leadership and volunteer experience including being an Eagle Scout and the Treasurer for his school’s National Honor Society.

The second winner of our $1000 youth scholarship award goes to Jake Browne, a young man at Reagan High School who plans to pursue a degree in Computer Science at UNC Chapel Hill. The selection committee was impressed with his creative and strategic plan for completing college without a burdensome debt load; as the Vice President of the Young Democrats of Forsyth County, he hopes to use his experience in political advocacy, leadership and money management skills to help navigate through the next four years of college.

We are very proud of the winners, as well as all 33 applicants who completed the process, and hope that everyone will continue to make smart financial choices as they pursue their education goals. Congratulations 2016 Scholarship winners!

The Center for Smart Financial Choices S.A.P.P. Institute launches a new curriculum

SAPP-CFSFC_webThe Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) has partnered with the Winston Salem Forsyth County School System (WSFCS) for the past four years to provide free financial education workshops in elementary and high schools throughout the county. Andrew Kraft, CFSFC Board Chairman and Program Manager for K-12 Social Studies, where financial literacy is taught, indicated a need for a financial curriculum that social studies teachers could use for middle school students ages 11-13.

Mr. Kraft and his team, Courtney Tuck, Middle School Social Studies Instructional Coach and Melissa McGready, High School Social Studies Instructional Coach recruited six experienced middle school teachers to write, teach and report on the effectiveness of the curriculum in the classroom.

The teachers used an Inquiry Design Model which incorporates a compelling question as the basis of the curriculum. The questions were designed to stimulate discussion and serve as the theme of the unit. The questions are as follows:

  • Sixth Grade- What Is the Impact of Economic Decisions On the Quality Of Life?
  • Seventh Grade- What Controls Personal Choices?
  • Eighth Grade- Are You Ready For Tomorrow?

The finale of the curriculum is a civic action component that requires students to connect their learning to the real world. Danielle Boyst of Wiley Middle School shared her thoughts on the impact of the curriculum, “As a teacher in a Title I school, I have daily contact with students and parents in the lower economic spectrum. A lot of my students are already aware of the lack of finances or the struggle their parents and guardians incur.  The personal finance unit was written as a way to provide resources not only for the students but for the family as a whole. This will be beneficial for students to begin dialogue in the home about financial choices with their parents. It will also help the family make better financial decisions and develop successful habits in the future.”

CFSFC’s S.A.P.P. Institute is planning to extend this curriculum to all Forsyth County Middle Schools in the 2016-2017 school year. Kimberly Brendle of Paisley Middle School noted, “The curriculum will be a guide to consistently teach the required economic standards across our county. These lessons will provide a structure for teachers and will facilitate the learning of the standards for all our students.”

We would like to thank Kimberly Brendle of Paisley Middle School and Jennifer Church of Jefferson Middle School; Brittany Barnes-Polk of Walkertown Middle School and Brad Freeman from Northwest Middle School; and Nicholas Arzillo of Hanes Middle School and Danielle Boyst of Wiley Middle for their brilliant work in incorporating financial competencies into the social studies curriculum.

Teacher recruits design curriculum

Teacher recruits design curriculum

Contact Betty Ann Falkner, CFSFC Director by phone 336.734.6919 or email for information on bringing this curriculum to your school district.

2016 Scholarship Opportunity Available for Adults & High School Seniors



The Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) is excited to announce its third year of providing scholarship opportunities for high school seniors and adult college students. Through the Mary Carol Sapp & Johnston Financial Education Scholarship Program, a total of $8,000 is available to eligible students for the 2016 – 2017 school year.

The distinguishing piece of this scholarship program is the requirement of all applicants to attend financial education classes offered by the Center. “The aim is not just to provide funds to pay for college, but to also cultivate financial competencies that will stick with each applicant long after they graduate from college,” says Leslie Moser, Youth Program Educator for the Center.

The initial deadline to apply for the scholarship opportunity and to submit the $15 membership fee to the Center is February 25th, 2016. The secondary deadline to complete classes and submit supplemental information (transcripts, acceptance letter, summary of achievements, essay) is April 18th, 2016.

Last years winners

Last years winners

The scholarships offered include:

  • One $2,000 award for any youth planning on attending college
  • Two $1,000 awards for any youth planning on attending college.
  • One $2,000 award for any Hispanic/Latino youth planning on or attending college for a first bachelor’s degree
  • One $2,000 award for any adult pursuing a technical or vocational education, an associate’s degree, or a first bachelor’s degree

Applicants will be evaluated by the Center’s selection committee based on demonstrated academic ability (minimum unweighted GPA of 3.0), personal achievements, community involvement, and demonstrated writing ability in a 500-word essay written in response to the required financial education classes.

“As an organization that strives to teach youth how to make smart financial decisions and avoid debt, it only makes sense that we should offer the tools and resources to help students achieve these goals. The Center is so excited to be able to offer two additional scholarships this year and we hope to get a surplus of applicants who wish to take advantage of this opportunity,” says Leslie Moser.

If you are a college-bound high school senior or an adult currently pursuing further education, download the initial application form- Application for Scholarship Opportunity-2016 to make the most of this great opportunity!button-application


Save your refundAmericans to win big again in 2016 by putting part of tax refunds directly into Savings

Taxpayers across America once again will have a chance to win cash prizes just by saving a portion of their tax refund through the Save Your Refund campaign, thanks to a new partnership between the Doorways To Dreams Fund (D2D) and America Saves, an initiative of the Consumer Federation of America.

The Save Your Refund campaign creates fun and exciting incentives for Americans to save at tax time, when households making less than $50,000 claim $100 billion in federal tax refunds. For many individuals and families, that tax refund is the largest check that they will receive all year. A chance to win a $25,000 grand prize or one of 100 smaller weekly prizes has proven to be enough to turn saving skeptics into savings winners.

The new partnership ensures the program will be able to have an even greater reach in 2016. America Saves will promote the program to an extensive network of volunteer income tax assistance (vita) sites, where taxpayers can learn about the savings prizes and get free help filing returns. Assistance and information will also be available through other VITA, volunteer, and community offices.

Save Your Refund changes lives for the better, by letting people see for themselves that saving, even in small amounts, is possible and that they can take a positive step for their future,” said Tim Flacked, D2D Executive Director. “We’re excited to work closely with America Saves to bring fun and prizes to tax time in 2016.”

Some 6,000 people saved more than $5 million through Save Your Refund so far.

More than half of all Americans have no savings to help them cope with even small emergencies. Yet more than 100 million taxpayers get refunds from the IRS each year.

“Our partners across the country hear every day from people who know they need to save and think they have no way to even get started,” said Nancy Register, America Saves Director. “We’re pleased to work with D2D this coming tax season to show people it’s easy to start saving. The best time for many to start saving is at tax refund time, and a great way for people to take that financial action is with the potential for a prize.”

The winner of the 2015 grand prize was living with her family of five in a single motel room when volunteer tax preparers in Lakeland, FL, told her about Save Your Refund. Mary Bunch said the possible prize motivated her, and the volunteers and the Save Your Refund program enabled her, to start a new habit of savings.

“It’s not about the amount of money that you save or that you have in the bank,” Bunch said. “It’s just knowing that it’s there. There used to be such a pressure on my chestSaving gives me back my quality of life.”

For information on how to save and enter Save Your Refund contests or to support Save Your Refund efforts across the United States, visit More about America Saves and its mission to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth is available at

Be an ‘Adult for A Day’ (#AFAD)



Learn what it will take for you to make a success of adulthood. Fun, hands-on budget/credit score workshop for teens ages 10-18. 

Explore the importance of making smart financial choices now and in the future using a set income to make decisions about where you will live, what you will buy and how a good credit score can help you in the future.

 Refreshments and prizes!



Scholarship Winners Announced

2015 Scholarship Winner Tyriq Evans

2015 Scholarship Winner Tyriq Evans

The Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) announced its 2015 scholarship winners. A total of $6,000 in three categories was awarded to the following recipients:

Tyriq Evans, an East Forsyth High School senior, won a $2,000 youth scholarship for a student planning on or attending college in 2015-2016. Evans will attend UNC Charlotte.

Sherry Richmond, a Forsyth County resident, was awarded the $2,000 scholarship for any adult looking to further their education by attending college in 2015-2016. Richmond will complete her education at Salem College.

Saul Armengol, a student at Early College of Forsyth County, received the $2,000 scholarship for any Hispanic/Latino youth planning on or attending college in 2015-2016. He will attend Forsyth Tech.

“Even though I may have financial plans for college, it is useless without the skills to carry them out,” said scholarship winner Tyriq Evans in his essay. “During my second class with CFSFC, I learned that money habit-attitudes or “Habitudes® affect the financial decisions people make. However, if I can put my habitude to work (my dominant habitude being planning), I can enjoy myself and still be financially successful.”

“Many young people work very hard to get into college,” said Betty Ann Falkner, CFSFC director “With what they have learned through the classes, the chances are greater that they will graduate with a minimum amount of student debt leading to a smart financial start to their adult lives.”

Sherry Richmond, a full-time college student working two jobs said, “from my experience at Salem, I have learned to constantly push myself to reach my goals and being awarded this scholarship will continue to help me do so.”

The award required a financial education component in which potential winners attended financial education classes to assist them with planning for college and beyond.

The Center recently announced a scholarship fundraising challenge to raise $6,000 in order to increase the 2016 scholarship offerings. The next cycle of the Scholarship program opens in February 2016.
Donations are accepted at

Success for your Teen-Money Habitudes

Want more for your Teen than a career at McDonalds?


Success starts with your teen understanding the world of finance. Help them get started by playing ‘Money Habitudes®’ a fun interactive card game and learn what your ‪#‎habits‬ and attitudes are about ‪#‎money‬


Refreshments will be served. teens habitudes

2015 Johnston Financial Education Scholarship Winnners Awards Reception

Join us in congratulating the 2015 Winners: 



    • Saul Armengol, student at Early College- winner of the Hispanic/Latino scholarship $2,000


    • Sherry Richmond, student at Salem College-winner of Adult Scholarship $2,000


    • Tyriq Evans, student at East Forsyth High School- winner of Youth Scholarship $2,000





Light Refreshments will be Served


Please rsvp to: