Aug 19, 2021

Mission 2030 Guest Post: Sabrina Benjamin Teaches Students How Financial Decisions Impact Their Future

The following post is one in a series of inspiring stories from NGPF's Gold Standard Challenge Grant Program which incentivizes high schools and districts to commit to ALL students taking personal finance courses before graduation. Learn more, and apply for your $2,500 to $30,000 Gold Standard Challenge Grant before the August 31, 2022 deadline here.

About Today's Guest Author

Sabrina Benjamin is an educator in the Maine Township High School District 207 in Park Ridge, Illinois. The schools in their district are the 92nd-94th recipients of the Gold Standard Challenge grant. Here is Sabrina describing Maine Township's journey to the Gold Standard!

Describe a rough timeline for how you and/or your colleagues were able to advocate for personal finance to become a graduation requirement in your school/district. How long did it take? What were the major progress milestones?

As a district, we believe in teaching our students about return on investments and how financial decisions they make in the present could impact their future, and what implications that may have multi-generationally. Having all of our students engage in a meaningful financial literacy course during high school that focuses on return on investment and the skills needed to be financially literate while considering how their own values, beliefs, backgrounds, cultures could impact those decisions was an important goal of our district. The timeline was having conversations with the administration about how to make the vision into reality and the implications it would have for our students. From those conversations, we wrote up a proposal for the course and submitted it for approval. Once approved at the district level, it was taken to the board meeting for final approval. The process took the fall semester but, as a district, we have been talking about the need for this course for our students for a few years.

What challenges did you encounter in your efforts to make personal finance a graduation requirement, and what solutions did you find for these challenges?

The challenges we faced were thinking about the content and what needed to be included in the course while embedding the executive functioning skills needed to be successful: analyzing, decision making, etc. Our solution was creating a team to work on the foundational part of the course to include multiple perspectives and voices from teachers to career coordinators to assistant superintendents and current and past students.

What/who were the "catalysts for change" that allowed your efforts to be successful?

The Superintendent, assistant superintendent, career coordinator, and department chairs were all the catalysts that aided in the success of making personal finance a graduation requirement. 

Which stakeholders (students, parents, admin, business leaders, school board, etc) were helpful partners in your quest to make the graduation requirement happen?

The admin, business leaders, career coordinator, superintendent, and department chairs were all very helpful partners in our journey to making all this possible.

About the Author

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