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JPMorgan Chase’s Kyra Giakas reads a comic book with lessons on debt and interest to students at Newark Primary Charter School on April 16. The event was part of Teach Children to Save Day in Delaware.
JPMorgan Chase’s Kyra Giakas reads a comic book with lessons on debt and interest to students at Newark Primary Charter School on April 16. The event was part of Teach Children to Save Day in Delaware.


Photo by Maria Errico

Delaware students experience a full slate of financial literacy activities in April

The Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship (CEEE) at the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics stays busy all year, but April also marks part of a particularly packed spring and summer calendar. Fittingly for a month with the tax deadline in it, April is Financial Literacy Month. 

CEEE staff say many young people don’t get basic personal finance education in their daily lives for various reasons, leaving them underprepared in ways that ripple through their adult lives. The Center aims to change that, hosting special events and working with Delaware schools to provide teacher training and resources for students at different grade levels. 

“We simply want to see Delaware’s students become financially literate and productive citizens, and we’re willing to do everything in our power to help make that happen,” said Scott Bacon, assistant director of CEEE. 

Fairy tale rewrite teaches students the importance of saving

A retelling of the “Jack and the Beanstalk” folk tale engaged elementary students around Delaware from April 15-19 with lessons about the importance of saving and not being controlled by debt. 

Each year, volunteers from banks and financial institutions in the region visit Delaware third- and fourth-grade classrooms as part of the nationally observed Teach Children to Save Day. 

This year’s event, the 26th, was sponsored in Delaware by CEEE in partnership with the Delaware Bankers Association. According to CEEE, more than 200 classrooms from 68 elementary schools signed up. Volunteers from 23 banks brought literacy education to around 5,400 students. 

At Newark Charter Primary School, students got a visit from Kyra Giakas, an analyst for JP Morgan Chase. Giakas, who graduated with a degree in finance and economics in 2022 from UD Lerner, read “The Amazing Money Stalk” to the children. 

The comic book is part of a series by Greg Koseluk of the Delaware Bankers’ Association. It features the magician The Great Investo, a hapless money manager who gets sound advice from his assistant Penny but doesn’t always heed it.  

In this story, students followed along as the Great Investo learned a lesson about the perils of fast cash and debt after he planted a magic bean and it sprouted into a plant with money for leaves. 

It was Giakas’ first time participating in Teach Children to Save Day, and she said afterward that she thought every school should get involved. In her job, she’s seen the real-world consequences of people lacking these financial skills. 

“I am passionate about personal finance, and I love working with kids, so this was the perfect opportunity to make a difference by helping to instill healthy financial habits at a young age,” she said. 

Funding the Future: Music Meets Money

It’s tempting to use the word “unusual” to describe a combination rock concert and a financial literacy crash course. But that term just doesn’t seem quite right, given that the band Gooding has now reached nearly 300,000 high school students in 35 states with both its music and its money management message. 

The show came to Howard High School of Technology on April 17, led by founding member Steven Gooding, who does the tours through his nonprofit Funding the Future

Rock group Gooding plays at Howard High School of Technology on April 17. Steven Gooding’s nonprofit Funding the Future promotes financial literacy in schools around the country.
Rock group Gooding plays at Howard High School of Technology on April 17. Steven Gooding’s nonprofit Funding the Future promotes financial literacy in schools around the country.

CEEE has been helping connect Gooding with Delaware schools for some time now and contacted Howard about the possibility of hosting the event. 

“I just think this is amazing; I wish every student in the state could see it,” said Gail Colbert, personal finance coordinator at CEEE. 

Students didn’t seem quite sure what to expect but quickly warmed to the act, clapping along and cheering Gooding’s instrumental solos and feats like playing two guitars at the same time.  

After the set, Gooding switched into a fast-paced monologue on responsible finances, explaining his own journey from a wannabe rich rock star to a grownup who realized that a band is a small business. 

“As much fun as it is to get lost in the music, I had to make a budget, I had to realize that I have to pay accountants, lawyers, manager, marketing, gas, food, hotels,” Gooding told the Howard students gathered in the auditorium.  

He emphasized that many famous people don’t, in fact, have finances figured out despite their vast incomes. 

Afterward, he fielded questions from the students. 

Gooding’s group tours throughout the country and beyond and has contributed music to several hit TV shows and movies. During this trip, they visited other Delaware high schools, including Smyrna, Concord, and St. Mark’s. 

High schoolers compete for state bragging rights

Newark Charter School won its third straight state championship on April 24th. 

The high school students weren’t competing on an athletic field but testing their financial knowledge and skills. 

The 15th annual Delaware High School Personal Finance Challenge was sponsored by Bank of America and hosted by CEEE. 

Almost all of the teams use CEEE’s Keys to Financial Success curriculum, developed by CEEE and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and provided free to participating Delaware schools. The competition is a chance for students to demonstrate what they’ve learned, have some fun and win prizes. 

The students battled it out at the Executive Banquet and Conference Center in Newark. Thirteen teams from eight schools took part, for a total of 60 students and teachers. Newark Charter led throughout, closely trailed by Appoquinimink. These two teams faced off in a final, quiz-style round, buzzing in to answer questions about the tax system, financial regulation, and insurance that might stump many adults. 

The teams started out trading points, but Newark Charter surged ahead. Appoquinimink staged a comeback, but Newark Charter finally pulled away to seal the victory. 

“It’s a day out, it’s a competition, it’s fun, it’s showing what you learned,” said Mike Renn, a social studies teacher at Newark Charter who led the team. He’s a graduate of Lerner’s Master of Arts in economics and entrepreneurship for educators who has taught CEEE’s financial curriculum for more than 20 years at different schools. 

“It’s one of those things that no one teaches but everyone assumes that you’ll learn,” he said of financial literacy. Since kids come from a variety of backgrounds, it’s kind of important that they get the ideas of how finance works, how interest rates work, how credit works, how the choices you make today impact all these things.” 

The Newark Charter team members included William Soyer, Michael Zerenner, Thaddeus Gore, and Kourtney Warren. 

The winners earned $500 each, and the second place team took home $250 each. 

Other events

April also saw the wrap-up of the Foundations of Financial Literacy training for Delaware teachers. Meanwhile, CEEE staff prepared for May’s Meaningful Economic Competition for grades 3-5, June’s Siegfried Youth Leadership Program Economics Summer Camp and July’s Economics and Personal Finance Teacher Conference, among other activities.   

“Knowing that our personal finance and economic programs, trainings and resources support teachers and give valuable experiences to students is what keeps us motivated during this busy time,” Bacon said.

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