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Foundation Celebrates Second Anniversary and 2.7 Million Money-Smart Youth

4/12/2019

By Danielle Robinson

Cha-Ching contest winners Cotton—which represents durability and the ability to adapt—is the traditional material of the second anniversary. A perfect symbol as the Jackson Charitable Foundation celebrates its second anniversary of providing free financial education to young people across the country. Cotton is after all, the material with which our paper currency is made from and understanding how money works allows people to bring durability to their lives and the choices we all have around money give us the ability to adapt.

In the two years our Foundation has been talking with young people about money, I’ve seen that money skills are life skills. The ability to delay gratification, consider options and make decisions with long-term goals in mind doesn’t just build bank accounts, it also builds successful relationships and lives.

Start with the Basics

In 2018, the Foundation expanded the reach of our signature program Cha-Ching™ Money Smart Kids, which is taught in classrooms around the country, through Junior Achievement U.S.A. and Discovery Education. Cha-Ching equips 7 to 12-year-olds with the knowledge, tools and practice they need to make informed financial decisions to reach their own personal goals and dreams. The three-minute music video storylines revolve around four key money concepts: Earn, Save, Spend and Donate. Since 2017, we’ve reached more than 2.7 million elementary students with Cha-Ching.

The 2018 Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids Challenge with Discovery Education invited teachers and parents from across the country to take a pledge to make teaching the basics of personal finance a priority. From more than 4,300 entries, one school rose to the top, Larry Miller Intermediate School in New Concord, Ohio. This money-smart school won the $10,000 grand prize to increase financial education at their school and an additional $1,000 prize to donate to their selected nonprofit, the Humane Society of Guernsey County, to underscore to students the importance of donating.

Students from Larry Miller Intermediate School are leveraging their $10,000 grand prize to lead the school in learning Cha-Ching financial principles through work with their student council. They are doing a school-wide service learning project to put fundraising, budgeting and donating principles into practice, giving them first-hand experience with money management and how they can use funds to help invest in their communities.

A group of Junior Achievement students Also in 2018, we rolled out a completely redeveloped third grade curriculum with Junior Achievement USA (JA). The upgraded program incorporates Cha-Ching music videos about making real-world money decisions into the JA Our City entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work-preparedness program, which is taught in classrooms to approximately 430,000 third-grade students across the country annually. To inspire financial learning beyond the classroom, the program includes take-home activities for kids and their parents.

Since last fall, I’ve personally taught this newly redeveloped curriculum in two different third-grade classes. The students loved Cha-Ching and I was amazed by how quickly they picked up complex money concepts like earning interest, invisible money like credit cards and how taxes help a city run. As luck would have it, in both of my JA classes, we had one lesson that was rescheduled due to a snow day. I used that everyday moment to ask my students how they could use our four money skills when it snows (which happens a lot in Michigan!). Their hands shot up as they told me about snow shoveling businesses they would start to earn money, money they would save in the summer for when their heating bills went up in the winter, the coats and boots they would spend money on and how they would donate to homeless shelters and food banks when the weather is dangerously cold. JA and Cha-Ching are a dynamite combination to make learning memorable for students.

Reaching High School Students

In the 2018-19 school year, our Foundation teamed up with Ramsey Education to give 250 high schools complimentary access to Foundations in Personal Finance, a classroom-ready curriculum designed especially for high school students. Through this joint effort, more than 20,000 high school students across the country, are getting hands-on lessons about using money in everyday life.

For the 2019-20 school year, the Foundation has doubled its support to sponsor 500 high schools across the country to receive this life-changing curriculum for free. Educators and schools interested in a sponsorship for the 2019-20 school year can complete a sponsor application here.

“For the 2019-20 school year, the Foundation has doubled its support to sponsor 500 high schools across the country to receive this life-changing curriculum for free.”

What I love about working with high school students is that they are at the critical age when they are beginning to make adult financial decisions. At this critical point, we have a chance to positively influence those decisions and change the trajectory of their entire life. We have heard from teachers in California, Michigan, Mississippi and everywhere in-between to tell us about how impactful this program is for their students.

A teacher in North Carolina told us about a former student who took this class in high school and then after graduation joined the US Navy. He comes back to their high school each year now to tell the current students how the program has impacted his life. He is living on half his salary and investing the other half. This is a terrific success story, but there are not enough young people in our country who feel equipped to make such wise financial decisions. Our foundation is committed to helping more young people understand how money works and having the confidence to make sound financial decisions.

Momentum forward

If we can do our part to make it easier for educators and families to teach these important topics, then our Foundation is doing the right thing. We are grateful for the collaboration of partners like JA, Discovery Education and Ramsey Education to make this programming available. We are even more grateful for the educators, parents and community volunteers who are on the front-lines teaching these life-changing skills to young people every day. Your influence makes all the difference.

Photo of Danielle Robinson
Danielle Robinson
Executive Director, Jackson Charitable Foundation

With more than 10 years experience in corporate philanthropy, Danielle Robinson inspires generosity and community involvement at Jackson. Danielle holds a bachelor's degree in communications and specialization in public relations from Michigan State University. Danielle and her husband, Ryan, reside in downtown Lansing and are both Michigan natives. Danielle can be reached at danielle.robinson@jackson.com.

The Jackson Charitable Foundation is the charitable-giving arm of Jackson National Life Insurance Company®. The Foundation focuses on work that is national in scope. Local community requests to strengthen families and increase economic opportunities in Lansing, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; and Nashville, Tennessee can be directed to Jackson's Corporate Philanthropy team.