Stop Summer Slide

Summer is here again!

The children have been waiting for the time when they are free from school, finished all their tests and can sleep late. But wait, we as parents and educators don’t want them to sleep their summer away or stay indoors tied to electronics.

We want them to have experiences, get outside and of course keep their brains active. This is especially true for middle school youth ages 11-14 who are not old enough to find a paying job and too old to stay at home with a sitter. Youth can lose precious math and reading skills over the summer.

Studies show that access to books during the summer prevents a drastic loss in reading skill – especially for kids in need.

Three of the most important things you can do to help youth:

  1. Encourage reading all summer long-Libraries are free and plentiful.
  2. Promote creativity and imagination- Kids.gov offers free activities Art & Music
  3. Keep youth moving and eating healthy.
    1. Forsyth County EFNEP helps families improve their diet and lifestyle in fun and healthy ways. Offer free classes, participants taste delicious recipes, improve cooking skills, and increase their knowledge on how to save money on groceries. Learn to Cook & Shop Wisely
    2. PBS Parents has a website full of free ideas to keep children moving. Sports & Fitness

Many youth participate in summer program through the YMCA, city Parks and Recreation and specialty art, dance or sports camps. Check out what is available for your children.

CFSFC is collaborating with several summer programs to help youth keep their reading, writing and math skills alive through fun money workshops. Over 600 youth will participate in one of our workshops this summer. Volunteers are needed to support youth learning valuable skills for the future.

Volunteer Today!

 

Invested in our Youth

The Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) has been committed to teaching youth about money and how it impacts their future. In 2014 through generous donations we incorporated a Financial Education Scholarship program that has aided over one hundred young adults on the road to a comfortable financial future.

In honor of our scholarship winners, CFSFC hosted a celebration on April 18, 2017 at the Enterprise Conference and Banquet Center. We are pleased to have had such an incredible turnout of over 100 children, parents, educators, college students and community partners who are dedicated to investing in our youth. Dr. Gwendolyn Johnson-Green, Director of WSFCSD Office of Alternative Education shared her feelings about the event when she said, “the guests and even our own Mayor and State Senator Paul Lowe were inspired by the real world Financial Literacy activities we participated in. The interaction with persons from all walks of life is always a treat.  We had a true representation of our community, all genders, ethnicities, and nationalities.”

There were so many highlights throughout the evening starting with our wonderful volunteers that showed up ready to teach money concepts at the various life stations we set up throughout the room. Every attendee was given an opportunity to participate in an interactive demonstration of being an “Adult for A Day” by visiting a variety of budget stations hosted by local businesses. A big thank you also goes to our many generous sponsors, like Donna Jones State Farm Insurance, Piedmont Natural Gas, Duke Power and Carolina’s Credit Union League. Continuing our scholarship program would not have been possible without their monetary donations, as well as, their friendly faces working the various stations.

Mayor Allen Joines graciously volunteered to be our scholarship certificate presenter. He arrived early to meet each candidate and learn about each one of them before the presentation. We all enjoyed showing him our budget stations, and our attendees truly enjoyed having the opportunity to meet him in person. Our scholarship winners were so grateful to have had him there to honor them as each happily posed for a ‘Kodak moment” while their parents and loved ones cheered them on!

Each year we meet an incredible number of teens and young adults who are striving to improve their lives by pursuing additional education. Their intelligence, perseverance and volunteerism truly makes us all proud to meet them. This year was no different, except that the four scholarships winners were all young women with a variety of strengths. The two youth scholarship winners, Anali Jacinto from Mount Tabor High School and Maria Valentina Roa from Davie High School boasted impressive GPA’s as well as a strong volunteer spirit. Our two young adult winners Elizabeth Vega-Orozco, current student at North Carolina A & T State University and Marianne Cruzat a student at UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School are both in their final year of college.

Anali Jacinto plans to be the first in her family to attend college, pursuing a career in a math and science field at Randolph College. As a member of JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) for the past three years, she has also had the opportunity to give back to the community through a variety of service projects. Through attending the required financial education classes, she learned that “going to college is a big investment that costs a lot of money and if it is not researched sufficiently and planned for, a person can easily get into a lot of debt.” Congratulations to Anali Jacinto as the recipient of the Mel Hughes Youth Scholarship Award!

Maria Valentina Roa will be the first in her immediate family to attend college in the United States.  She is excited to pursue a career in dentistry. Maria showed great interest and enthusiasm at each financial education class. The selection committee was especially impressed by her academic performance in the multiple honors and advanced placement classes she has taken over the years. Additionally, she has shown great character by her long-term volunteerism at Novant Hospital, her church, various camps, and the Ronald McDonald House.  In response to the classes, Maria says: “I have now talked to my mom about her credit score, looked at and understand the different types of financial aid loans offered to me, and I’ve made sure my major is one that will be a positive investment for my future.” Please join me in congratulating Maria Valentina Roa as one of our $1,000 Youth Scholarship Winners!

Elizabeth Vega-Orozco, winner of the Hispanic/Latino Scholarship Award in the amount of $2,000 is one year away from graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering. The selection committee was particularly impressed by her grit and perseverance in balancing very difficult coursework while raising a three-year-old son and remaining in the top 10% of her class. She is a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and has also volunteered with the Hispanic League and with the Annual Latinas Educating on Aids Awareness and Prevention Gala. She states that the education she received through the scholarship classes will “allow her to budget effectively in her final year of college to avoid further education debt and help her acquire assets as she becomes more financially stable.” CFSFC has no doubt that its investment in her education will bring wonderful returns on a variety of levels.

Marianne Cruzat, winner of the $2,000 Adult Scholarship, is diligent and committed to graduating from school debt-free. A current business student at UNC Chapel Hill, she was recently one of fifty students admitted to the Kenan-Flagler Business School and plans to spend the next year studying business abroad in Asia and Europe as a GLOBE Program Scholar. Since connecting with CFSFC last year during the scholarship competition, she has been faithful to stay in touch, volunteer when able, and serve as an advocate for financial education. Marianne, “wants to give back to the community and teach other students to be financially literate. She strongly recommends learning more about CFSFC and its incredible programs”. CFSFC is very excited to support her in the final years of her education and know that she will make great waves in the business world someday!  

Lisa Nakawatase, an educator for 15 years, currently at Forsyth Middle College and our guest speaker summed up the evening when she said, “this was one amazing event and I am beyond honored to have been involved!  Thank you all for your dedication and hard work to always make education BETTER!  I am extremely blessed to know and work alongside such passionate and incredible people!”

Fund our Scholarships

Investing in our Youth

Teens today face a multitude of challenges to reach adulthood including academic worries, depression, bullying, drugs and alcohol.  Despite those challenges, we are making headway in “cultivating youth for a future of financial wellness”.


Will I be able to save enough money?

The Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) shared knowledge on the role of additional education in improving the future prospects of over 3,400 youth in 2016. Each youth began building a framework of financial competency that will enable them to look forward to a stable life. The demand for financial education continues unabated and CFSFC is the only non-profit doing this work with youth.

We offered 163 workshops at 41 different locations in Forsyth, Stokes and Guilford counties. This would not have been possible without the help of 99 volunteers who donated 635 hours.

How will credit affect my future?

 

Volunteer Today!

 

 

 


What Teens Learned in 2016

CFSFC asked over 2,300 high school students to complete an evaluation of their learning while participating in the “Adult for A Day” budget and credit workshop. The average student was 16 years old, 49% were female and 51% were male.

Students were asked about their future plans and if they have spoken to their parents. Most students have talked about their college plans with their parents, although their expectations about how college will be paid for are unconfirmed. 

What changes will teens make in their financial habits?

  • 42% agreed to Track Expenses for One Week 
  •  58% will Change One Habit To Save Money 
  • 42%  Plan to Open A Savings Account   
  • 48% will consider more Classes to Make Good  Financial Choices

 


Financial Education Addresses the Future

Teaching children about money- how to manage it, save it and spend it wisely – is essential to making sure they are prepared for the financial world.
Teens were asked where they got their financial advice from and 86% percent reported they learned from their families. 

George Washington University economics professor Annamaria Lusardi has done pioneering research on financial literacy. Her studies have documented the gaps in financial knowledge among different demographic groups. “What the data on financial literacy shows is that financial knowledge is unequally distributed,” says Lusardi. “Those with the least knowledge are also the most vulnerable groups in economic terms.

Lusardi directs the Global Finance Literacy Excellence Center that focuses on raising the level of financial knowledge through financial-literacy education. “Finance has entered the lives of every family in a much more significant way than in the past. We now have a lot more responsibility for managing our money. Everyone needs to know the ABCs of finance,” notes Lusardi.


Join us in Investing in our Youth

We ask teens what other knowledge they need for a successful future and they told us:

  • Need help opening a savings or checking account
  • Information about different career choices
  • Help in getting a job now
  • Help applying for scholarships and grants
  • Strategies for spending less & saving more money

Here are a few lessons learned as shared by youth:

  • I have started tracking the amount of money I spend, and based on this, I change my bad habits of wasting money on unnecessary things.
  •  I have learned how to keep a proper budget so I have saved a lot more money. I also set up a checking and savings account after learning about them.
  • Well I’m not more willing to just spend money on whatever I want. I have to stop and ask myself do I really need this / want this and then I chose if I purchase the item or not. I have saved more and begun working towards saving for college.
  • The Center for Smart Financial Choices made me more aware of my options on how to pay for college and save up to pursue other goals of mine such as studying abroad. I am more aware of the importance of saving my money and look forward to it because I know that I am making an investment in my life!

On April 18, 2017, we will hold the Second Annual Day of Giving Event highlighting the value of investing in the financial education of our youth.

 Register now

 

Can we count on your financial support in helping our youth build better financial futures for themselves?

Donate Today!

Youth-Our Future Promise

The future promise of any nation can be directly measured by the present prospects of its youth.

President John F. Kennedy acknowledged that the present prospects of our youth will affect the future.  How are we doing in this area? Youth unemployment is very high for those 16-24 without advanced education.  Millions of youth are unable to find full-time opportunities that match their skills, or use their formal job training or education. All of this comes at great cost to the future with college graduates holding a diploma and an enormous financial burden of credit card and student loan debt.

One key to building a strong future for youth is increasing their financial capabilities. The economic system of the world today requires youth to be taught how to handle money at home and in school. Organizations like the Center for Smart Financial Choices, Junior Achievement, NC Jump$tart, banks and credit unions work to help youth through financial literacy initiatives.

One of our scholarship participants Miah shared what she wants for her future, “College is a time to learn, discover, find myself and create new paths. One thing I will work to not discover, find or create is unnecessary debt because I want total control in my choices, life and future.”

 Help Miah and other youth like her succeed by contributing to our #GivingTuesday campaign.

 GIVE NOW!

CFSFC helps start youth on the path to financial competency by introducing and expanding on the basic concepts of: Earn, Spend, Save/Invest, Borrow and Protect. Our workshops offer this education beginning at age ten and continue through college. We help prepare high school seniors for the cost of going to college through our Financial Education Scholarship Program.

Fifth Graders explore budgeting

Fifth Graders explore budgeting

To “cultivate our youth for a future of financial wellness” requires all of us to strive to share positive personal finance knowledge before they move to full adulthood. This is a crucial life skill that will ensure a comfortable financial future for all youth.

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.

Winners-2016

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 bfalkner@cfsfc.org for information on bringing this curriculum to your school district.

2016 Scholarship Opportunity Available for Adults & High School Seniors

 

SAPP-CFSFC_web_001

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

Be an ‘Adult for A Day’ (#AFAD)

 ReganAFAD10a

 

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 Applicants Raise Their Financial IQ

One of the requirements in competing for the 2015 Johnston Financial Education scholarship was for applicants to attend two financial education classes.  This year, thirty-three individuals applied for one of three scholarships. Twenty-nine individuals, six (6) adults; nine (9) Hispanic/Latinos; and fifteen (15) youth completed all requirements.

Many of the applicants faced obstacles in attempting to go to college or paying to finish their schooling. Several faced legal barriers to financial aid and almost all of the applicants work part-time or at multiple jobs to finance their education.  Yet this is a goal for all of them as they echo what Paula said ‘Going to college is just the door step to where I see myself in the future. College will prepare me with knowledge, experiences, and skills … I believe I know what comes first in my life, and college is definitely one of them’.

The first class, ‘Going to College-Counting the Cost’ revealed the true cost of college and tips that all individuals can use to reduce their reliance on student loans. This class was featured on Time Warner Cable Channel 14 Money Matters in April. http://www.twcnews.com/stories/2015/04/28/m/money-matters-paying-for-college.html

Two other classes, ‘Finding Money for Free’ and ‘Money Habitudes®’ gave applicants ideas on how to keep better track of their money and helped them developed a better understanding of their habits and attitudes around money.  All the participants gained a solid financial foundation to guide them as they move forward in life.

College1a

Jessica said, ‘to help avoid unnecessary debt … I am going to make a plan to see what I spend my money on. After that I will begin writing down if I NEED the item or if I WANT it. Being that I am a spontaneous shopper, (thank you money habitudes!) I think coming up with this plan will help me cut down on all the things I don’t need to buy right at the moment.’

Greicy shared the confidence she and the other students will need in facing their future when she said, ‘I am confident that I can exhibit the restraint and the discipline required to commit to my budget and avoid falling into unnecessary debt in college. These positive habits will not only alleviate financial matters, but will also help me build the confidence and character necessary to become a fiscally responsible and independent adult.’College4

Miah summed up their learning experience when she stated, ‘College is a time to learn, discover, find myself and create new paths. One thing I will work to not discover, find or create is unnecessary debt because I want total control in my choices, life and future…I am thankful for learning that from classes at the Center for Smart Financial Choices.’

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU & MAY YOUR FUTURE BE EVERYTHING YOU BELIEVE IT CAN BE!