Dollars and $ense

DECA students teach their peers, community members about financial literacy

With the average college graduate leaving school with more than $4,000 in credit card debt, it is clear that a greater understanding of finances is needed.

However, for most high school students, it’s not something to which they give much thought, beyond filling out applications for college financial aid and scholarships.

Camas High School seniors Sara Slayton and Evan Klein are determined to change this.

The two have spearheaded a project dedicated to teaching and promoting financial literacy.

They have organized this as a chapter-wide project for DECA, which is an association of marketing students. Slayton and Klein will take their project results to DECA competitions later in the year, hoping to place in the top 10 at the international level.

The two are teaching a seven week course every Tuesday for freshmen students about financial literacy. Slayton and Klein chose the project because of its strong correlation to the current state of the economy.

They said it is important for teenagers to get informed now, before they have to make tough financial decisions later.

“When you’re a teen, you live in your own little bubble,” Slayton said. “You don’t really have to worry about financial decisions until later in life.”

Added Klein, “Not many students know their financial futures and the risks they may take if they are not educated and financially literate.”

The two developed their curriculum based on the National Financial Capability Challenge, organized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The challenge is designed to increase the financial knowledge of high school students across the country. In April 2011, Slayton and Klein will take the Challenge Exam. If they place in the top 20 percent across the nation, they will receive awards.

However, they didn’t stop with teaching a freshmen class. Slayton and Klein also arranged to have community members versed in finance speak to the Advanced Marketing class about their professions.

They also organized a college planning workshop for juniors and seniors, and started a poster campaign with statistics about financial literacy and bankruptcy.

Lastly, Slayton and Klein have hung posters in Camas businesses and talked to the owners about their project.

“They were all very interested in our project and what we had to say,” Slayton said.

Although it has been a huge undertaking with all of their other duties as high schoolers, both say it has been worth it.

“Both high school students and many adults really don’t realize how important financial literacy is,” Slayton said. “To be able to do this project and impact our school as well as the community was cool.”

Klein agreed.

“I received an e-mail from a parent of one of the freshman students, thanking me for teaching this class,” he said.

“It will give them an increased understanding of just how much they have to pay for as they get older.”

To learn more about the financial literacy project, browse www.moneygetinformed.yolasite.com.

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