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Associates Connect With Kids and Teach Money Smarts for Life

Rudi Wetzel
April 29, 2016

In honor of Teach Children to Save Day, we’re proud to share stories of associates who are demonstrating our core value of Commitment to Service by teaching financial literacy classes to children in their communities.



Gulfport, Mississippi, banker Chris Estrade conducts Class in the Grass and shares good savings tips with Gaston Point Elementary School students and teachers following the launch of the company's Perseverance Oaks project.


Setting the Stage for a Lifetime of Financial Security

Most everyone wants to save money; but squirreling away even a few dollars can get tough, especially when real life happens. Thankfully, it’s never too late—or too soon—to start stashing a little now for more later.

“We all know we ought to save money. Not many of us do it the way we should,” said downtown Gulfport, Mississippi, branch manager Chris Estrade, who also works closely with Mississippi Young Bankers financial education. “The best advice is to begin saving early and to pay ourselves first. If we can put away even a small amount each payday, it’s amazing how fast savings can accumulate.”

Saving money when bills are due or kids need new clothes isn’t always easy. Setting and following a monthly budget can help families monitor where their money goes and how to cut back on spending. Budgeting takes discipline; but after a few months, said Estrade, good money management gets to be second-nature and sets a good example for young people.

“Children watch and learn from what we do. Teaching and showing them the importance of savings and basic financial skills will help them throughout their lives. Sharing those lessons also helps us dust off our own financial know-how,” he added.

Estrade said good financial knowledge at an early age can set the stage for a life of financial success and security; but improving money smarts at any stage of life can make a difference. During Financial Literacy Month, associates have been helping hundreds of students—and many adults—jumpstart the financial savvy they’ll need to turn pennies into dollars over the long-term.

“Whether helping kids with basics or their parents buy their first home, our associates are passionate about financial education at all levels,” said Estrade. “Teach Children to Save Day is a great time to start financial literacy conversations that can benefit everybody in the family—something as simple as talking to your child’s homeroom about savings or taking him or her to meet a local banker and open their first savings account.”


Mortgage loan officer Veronica Martinez (left) and retail banker Joette Martin help metro Houston, Texas, students kick start their financial know-how with real-life lessons that compliment Financial Cents.


Technology and Sense

In 2014 the company invested in and launched Financial Cents, a web-based financial education program powered by EverFi technology, as the main financial literacy arm of a Commitment to Service focus on volunteerism. So far, 162 schools have activated Financial Cents. Almost 20,000 students have completed 100,000 online modules totaling nearly 66,500 learning hours.

EverFi, the nation’s leading financial education technology firm, uses the digital realm to teach common-sense money management lessons complementing elementary, middle, and high school classroom and state curriculums. Financial Cents is the bank’s branded EverFi program to introduce key financial concepts to students and support community reinvestment.


Elberta Middle School students learn smart ways to manage money from Daphne, Alabama, branch manager Jennifer Foster after completing Financial Cents.


Local bankers partner with EverFi to adopt an eligible school and implement Financial Cents with principal and teacher support. When students finish modules (usually within one academic term), bankers talk in person with students about the importance of saving and managing money well. Bankers also participate in Financial Cents graduation ceremonies recognizing students for successfully completing modules.


“When we see students after they’ve completed Financial Cents, they ask such great questions. Their eyes light up when we touch on a topic they’ve learned from Financial Cents. They all want to answer the questions, and they absolutely know the answers,” said Jennifer Foster, Daphne branch manager. 


Learning Opportunities

The company continues its emphasis on financial education through Financial Cents and Community Connection, the company’s associate volunteer program. Additionally, other student and adult financial literacy partnerships built on existing curriculums available from the American Bankers Association, mortgage associations, and state banking organizations, complement a comprehensive financial education effort.

Perseverance Oaks, launched in April to help replenish live oak populations in storm ravaged communities, also features elementary-school-age financial education called Class in the Grass.