New financial literacy program aims to teach life skills in schools

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on Tuesday signed a proclamation in conjunction with the launch of the EverFi program in six area schools. The financial literacy program is sponsored by First National Bank in Brundidge and will be taught at Charles Henderson High School, Pike County High School, Goshen High School, Zion Chapel High School, Ariton High School and Pike Liberal Arts School. Joining Gov. Bentley at the event were Jimmy Ramage, president of FNB; John Ramage, senior vice president of FNB; state Sen. Bryan Taylor; state Sen. Jimmy Holley; state Rep. Alan Boothe; representatives from the Community Bankers Association of Alabama; representatives from EverFi; and educators from each of the partner schools.

Financial literacy will join the curriculum of six area schools thanks to a new program sponsored by First National Bank in Brundidge.

Representatives of FNB were joined by Alabama State Treasurer Young Boozer, school representatives, local lawmakers, members of the Community Bankers Association of Alabama and representatives from EverFi on Tuesday for a luncheon in Montgomery to discuss the program. Shortly afterwards, they joined Gov. Robert Bentley in the Capitol, where he signed a proclamation in honor of the program.

“This is leading edge, cutting edge technology and a great program,” Boozer said during the luncheon. “For a long, long time I have been an advocate for financial literacy.”

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Boozer said the program offered by EverFi, and sponsored by First National Bank, is “a winner” that will help educate young people about critical financial issues.

John R. Ramage, senior vice president at FNB, said the bank wanted to find a way to help provide real-word education to students. “Your credit is like your GPA,” he said. “It only takes one bad grade or one bad credit decision and you have to dig out.”

Ramage said the bank decided to expand its in-house financial literacy efforts partly on the suggestion of the state treasurer.

“I don’t believe in coincidence,” Ramage said. “One day, Treasurer Boozer was down speaking at our Business and Finance Academy and asked us, ‘what kind of financial literacy program do you offer?’ … That’s when he mentioned EverFi.” Two weeks later, the CBAA endorsed the program.

EverFi, a national company, teaches, assesses and certifies students in critical life skills, from financial education to digital education to substance abuse prevention. The programs are administered through interactive interfaces – even 3D gaming for teens – designed to engage students. The financial program, which spans elementary to adults, teaches about everything from credit bards to debt to savings.

“We believe it’s going to be a great thing,” Ramage said on Tuesday. “As a community bank, this is a perfect example of what we do.”

Six schools will participate in the program: Charles Henderson High School, Goshen High School, Pike County High School, Zion Chapel High School, Ariton High School and Pike Liberal Arts School. The six schools also participate in FNB’s Spirit program, which provides funding for schools through the use of school-branded debit cards and checks. That successful program, launched two years ago, provides an ideal platform for expansion into a more formal financial literacy effort, Ramage said.

“The good thing about this program is you can teach it in different ways,” Ramage said. “We’ll be running six different ways in six different classrooms.”

Beth Carroll, director of southern operations for EverFi, said the company has 928 partners around the country – many include community banks such as FNB – who are helping to offer “as much financial literacy as we can get to the students.”

Ramage said the six schools will begin teaching the program in upcoming weeks.