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Financial Health from the Heart: How our partnership with one NOLA academy embodies what we believe about Financial Education

April 30, 2021
Lindsey Wands
Lindsey Wands

When innovative educators committed to their students come together with skilled bankers committed to their communities, remarkable opportunities unfold for young people to thrive. Our financial education partnership with the Academy of the Sacred Heart, a premier all-girls independent Catholic school in New Orleans, is one of those kinds of collaborations.

We’ve always had a strong connection with Sacred Heart. Many of our associates over the years have been Sacred Heart alumnae. Many more associates have children who are second-, third-, and fourth-generation Sacred Heart students and graduates. Long before the pandemic—and now as the world rewinds to some sense of normal—our associates have never failed to be front and center in supporting Sacred Heart. We’ve always been grateful for Sacred Heart including us, too. Financial education is one more way we can give back, pay forward, and complement Sacred Heart’s efforts to ready young women for life.

Sacred Heart Community Outreach and Partnership Coordinator Jana D. Fogleman puts it this way: “When two very successful organizations partner, they create a catalyst for growth and learning.”


Real-life looks at business and money

We believe understanding fundamentals of smart money management is crucial for financial health, especially in a rapidly changing global community. We join with countless schools and nonprofits to share our lifelong learning philosophy for financial education. Sacred Heart is one institution leading the way in helping students balance textbook knowledge with real-world know-how about business and money.

At Sacred Heart, juniors and seniors engage in “Shark Tank” competitions to learn the fine points of viable business plans, with our bankers among the judges. High school students run an on-campus PJ’s Coffee shop. Fourth-graders manage a snack bar for lower grades, and sixth-graders build and sell birdhouses. Proceeds from all projects benefit charities the students choose. By combining conversations with our associates with structured curriculum, then helping students apply what they learn, Sacred Heart inspires entrepreneurial spirit, nurtures community stewardship, and encourages inquiring minds.


Business Sharks. Hartley Crunk (left) and Lindsey Wands, both Hancock Whitney bankers, help judge the Sacred Heart Shark Tank competition, which teaches juniors and seniors important lessons about building business plans.

“Hancock Whitney has provided curriculum to be incorporated across divisions of Sacred Heart that has resulted in great progress in our students’ personal growth and knowledge of financial literacy, from the youngest child in Little Hearts learning about savings to our Upper School girls learning everything from modern banking to current and future economic trends. We place great value on our partnership with Hancock Whitney,” added Fogleman.

Aubry Miller, who teaches financial literacy to high school students, said no matter what career path a student ultimately chooses, they’re involved in business in some way. She believes financial education and hand-on experience in business teaches lessons young women might otherwise miss in traditional classroom settings.

“Many entrepreneurs acquire their financial literacy the hard way. I’m so proud of how Sacred Heart and Hancock Whitney have partnered on creative ways to impart this knowledge to our young women before they go out into the real world,” said Miller.

ASH Reading

Early Start for Little Hearts. Hancock Whitney bankers Liz Hefler (bottom right) and Lindsey Wands read a Curious George book about saving money for a toy to help Sacred Heart Little Hearts begin to understand why financial health is important.


Money matters for the future

Sacred Heart alumna, parent, and Hancock Whitney associate Liz Hefler agrees that candid talks about business and money should happen sooner rather than later so young people can avoid financial pitfalls seriously affecting their lives.

“Often, we’re taught that it’s not socially appropriate to talk about money. We’re told it’s not polite. But, if you don’t talk about money now, you can make simple mistakes that can take years to undo. We hope this financial education partnership helps these young women avoid poor financial decisions down the road,” Hefler emphasized.

Sacred Heart students aren’t completely uninformed about business and money, however. In fact, they’re amazingly insightful for their ages. Hefler and Tim Brennan, another Sacred Heart parent and Hancock Whitney banker, recently talked to an economics class of seniors who asked some rather savvy questions, including “How will I pay for college?.”

“Sacred Heart has done so much to help students think about what happens beyond school, about their futures,” said Brennan. “These women aren’t just concerned about how to spend their pocket money. They’re looking ahead and thinking about what happens when they’re out of school—the good and bad of credit cards, when they should start investing, even 401-Ks and company matching.”

The students are already thinking about work-life balance, too—how to have it all and make it work. Hefler said many of the women identify with female professionals who share anecdotes about managing families and careers, especially in the wake of the homebound culture COVID-19 created.

“All of the girls have ambitions for some kind of professional career. Many of the high school girls relate to a woman coming to speak to them. Even the fourth-graders ask about what hours to expect. They want to know about time management. They see and hear how we balance our personal lives with our careers and realize that it is possible,” she added.

Confidence and success

We believe that building brainpower and financial health through financial education helps nurture future success. Sacred Heart is one of many outstanding organizations we partner with to help people know and practice good financial habits. Seeing that proverbial light bulb come on when we share what we know as financial professionals is one of the most rewarding parts of what we do. We learn as much as—maybe more than—the students and adults we’re teaching.

Like so many of our associates, Sacred Heart alumna, parent, and bank associate Markey Aucoin volunteers her time and expertise because financial education can bolster not only knowledge but also self-assurance and independence when making financial decisions.

“Financial education helps people realize money isn’t scary. Students learn at an early age how to discuss money, how to handle it, and how not to be afraid of it, whether they’re opening their first checking account or buying their first car,” said Aucoin.

During National Financial Literacy Month and all year, partnerships such as financial education at Sacred Heart align with why we come to work every day—to help create opportunities for people and the communities we serve. When students learn, they grow. As they grow, our communities grow; and we at Hancock Whitney have the privilege of helping more people achieve their financial goals and dreams.