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Saving Joy: Happy Birthday to Jackson Charitable Foundation


By Danielle Robinson

Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids playing music in garden April is Financial Literacy Month – an entire 30 days dedicated to teaching Americans how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits. This April also marks one year since the Jackson Charitable Foundation began its work to increase financial education across the U.S. with Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids. Since then, we have been hard at work with our partners, Junior Achievement U.S.A. and Discovery Education, to help classroom volunteers, teachers and families talk about money with students.

When we began in April 2017, our goal was to reach at least 1 million students in the first year. This month, as we celebrate our one-year anniversary, we are overjoyed to have far exceeded that goal! Within one year, we have reached nearly 1.5 million students with Cha-Ching, helping them understand the four basic money concepts – Earn, Save, Spend and Donate.

Cha-Ching is a cartoon band that features six energetic characters, brought to life in engaging music videos. These 3-minute music videos help children learn about fundamental money management concepts through the band members’ different money habits. Each storyline underscores the cycle of money and vital money choices we make every day. This free financial education program can be accessed online at and includes:

  1. Engaging Music Videos — Helping children learn money management concepts with lively cartoon characters from the Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids! band. Storylines, developed by Dr. Alice Wilder, producer for Blues Clues and co-creator for Super WHY!, spotlight the importance of earning, saving, spending and donating, and help reinforce healthy money habits.
  2. Classroom Activities — Providing K-6 educators with engaging activities to teach students how to be money smart.
  3. Educator Guides — Aiding educators in enhancing their background knowledge, making meaningful classroom connections, and leveraging the Cha-Ching financial literacy videos to make classroom activities simple and fun.
  4. Family Activities — Offering parents, families and communities helpful tools to teach their children to be money smart.
  5. Annual Sweepstakes — Promoting positive money habits and awarding deserving schools a $10,000 prize to build a brighter financial future.

CHA-CHING MONEY SMART KIDS PLEDGE CHALLENGE St. Mary's schools is presented with $10,000 to put toward financial education

In partnership with Discovery Education, we also shared our program with teachers and parents through the Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids Pledge Challenge last fall. Teachers and parents were invited to take a pledge to prioritize teaching personal finance basics. The school with the most pledges would win $10,000 to put toward financial education and an additional $1,000 to donate to a charity of their choice. This spring, we visited the winning school, St. Mary’s in Bellevue, Nebraska, for a Cha-Ching Winners Assembly. At the all-school assembly, students watched Cha-Ching episode #1, participated in a Cha-Ching activity and heard from world-renowned children’s education expert, Dr. Alice.

Spending time at St. Mary’s with these students reminded me about why our Foundation has embarked on this important work to increase financial education across the U.S. Students begin forming their thoughts, feelings and behaviors around money at a very young age. Providing children with the tools to make sound personal finance decisions early sets them on the path for success in the future. Seeing our mission in action rekindled the passion I feel for this work – I’m eager to keep growing our impact to help more kids and families.


The Foundation has also partnered with Junior Achievement U.S.A. (JA) to incorporate Cha-Ching into the JA 3rd grade curriculum to amplify the engaging financial literacy content JA brings to more than 15,000 classrooms each year. JA is the world's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.

This spring, I am volunteering in a 3rd grade classroom in Lansing, Michigan to teach JA featuring Cha-Ching. I love that JA gives those of us who are not classroom teachers by profession a turnkey opportunity to get involved in helping students. I’ve volunteered with JA for more than 12 years, and have taught many different grade levels. If you’re looking for a meaningful way to give back in your community, I encourage you to inquire about volunteering with your local JA chapter.

“Giving people the ability to handle their own financial life well, gives them the freedom to live life the way they desire. Even better, personal financial wellness gives us the ability to help others in need, which in my book is the true definition of a life well lived.”

As we look forward into our Foundation’s second year, we have many plans to increase the impact of Cha-Ching and expand our work to reach beyond elementary students. Our country desperately needs more financial education and intervention, so Americans can make better financial decisions today and into the future. Giving people the ability to handle their own financial life well, gives them the freedom to live life the way they desire. Even better, personal financial wellness gives us the ability to help others in need, which in my book is the true definition of a life well lived.

Until next time, wishing you much prosperity and joy!

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

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.