There’s great news on the financial horizon: high schoolers from the Upper Keys all the way to Key West are eligible to enter Florida Keys Credit Union’s “Financial Fitness Challenge,” winning up to $5,000 and learning plenty in the process.
While more than half of the states don’t require high school students to take an economics course, Florida does. Keys Federal Credit Union has teamed up with the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and made a serious commitment to ensuring that Keys kids don’t fall behind on finances. The kicker? It’s fun!
KFCU, the Monroe County School District, and local businesses will create and sponsor student teams of two to three to compete in the educational tournament. It’s through a program created by Visa and the National Football League, called “financial football.” The interface is sophisticated and engaging, like any video game, and students can play as one of their favorite stars from the NFL.
Each correctly answered financial literacy question results in yards gained. The topics span budgeting, identity theft, debt, credit, financial institutions, and life events. Anyone can play the game online at www.financialfootball.com (I already learned a thing or two), but only Keys high school students can compete in the Financial Fitness Tournament.
While last year, it was only a Key West event, it’s now inclusive to all high school students in the Keys. “They’ll compete at their area level, and then there is a competition to crown a Keys champion,” said Sarah Evans, marketing coordinator at FKCU, “then they’ll compete at a state level, and then the league will handle state and regional levels.” The prize is $1,500 for each smaller region (Key West, Marathon, Key Largo). The Keys champion will receive an additional $1,500, and the winning students can compete at the state level for more cash prizes. FKCU sees it as an incentive to save money for college or another long-term goal.
FKCU is also encouraging adults and businesses to get involved through local sponsorship of their teams — the entry fee is $250 per team. They are hoping for as many entries as possible, to make for a healthy competition and more learning opportunities for the players. The closing date for entries is Feb. 17, and the tournament is running through March. There are events pages on FKCU’s website, as well as Facebook.
It’s not just about the short-term goal of prizewinnings. Says Evans: “It’s about understanding the value of the money as well … It encourages them to play a little bit more, and it’s non-traditional learning. It’s real world financial fitness, and how to be savvy financially.”
FKCU CEO Maggie Sayer has been behind the effort since its inception. Said Sayer, “We are excited to partner with both the businesses in our communities and the League of Southeast Credit Unions to provide a fun, educational competition for Keys high school students. By helping educate and inform our local students about money management and personal finance, we hope to help produce future financially literate members of our communities.”
Financial Facts about high schoolers
32 percent of high school seniors are using credit cards.
26 percent of parents feel prepared to educate kids on finances.
44 percent of money issues at home affect performance at school.
More than 80 percent of students would like more financial education.