For the past five years, 6th grade students at Clarence Farrington School 61 have gotten a financial education along with their English, math and science courses. Thanks to a partnership with Fifth Third Bank, students take part in a 10-week Young Bankers Club (completely sponsored by Fifth Third) that teaches students financial literacy.
 

Each week volunteers from Fifth Third Bank come, work with groups of four or five students and cover various topics:

  • Where money comes from and the role education plays in future earnings
  • What a budget is, what interest is, and the importance of saving
  • Basic banking transactions and the various jobs at a bank
  • Credit versus debit cards
  • Investments and the risks of investing
  • What it takes to start a business
According to Scenario Adebesin, Senior Vice President of Community and Economic Development for Fifth Third Bank, “The goal is to have kids thinking about what’s after high school at a young age.”
 
Katrina Richardson-Sow, a teacher at Clarence Farrington who has been involved with the program all five years, agrees. She notes that though everything covered is tied to the standards students need to meet right now, “The course helps students focus on a plan for getting to high school and beyond.”
 
The program is hands-on in driving that point home. On Week One, all students pick a stock and invest an imaginary $5,000 in it. They then follow that stock during the 10-week course, charting its ups and downs and discussing them.
 
On Week Two of the program this year, students who had picked McDonald’s and Finish Line as their stocks saw their value go down. This sparked a lively discussion about why one, the other or both might have gone down that week and how things like weather and employment impact stock value.
 
Students also have to present their stock to the class, explaining what it is and why they picked it. This teaches them the basics of a timed, professional presentation.
 

Clarence Farrington teacher Jessica Beyerlein lets her students come back to class during lunch or recess to work on their presentations on class computers or practice their presentations with her. Many students jump at that chance.

This year, the best presenters from each class win the opportunity to go to Fifth Third headquarters, have breakfast with senior Fifth Third leadership and make their stock presentations to the leadership.
 

Students are clearly excited to take part. Belsy E. picked Starbucks as her stock. “They have hot coffee for the winter, and iced coffee for summer,” she explained. She wants to learn more about “how stocks get higher and lower” and how the stock market works.

Satianne Q. said she’s looking forward to some of the other topics that will be covered. “I’ve seen my mom with debit and credit cards, and I want to learn the difference.”
 
The course finishes with a career and college focus—a field trip to Fifth Third banking locations for a behind the scenes look at what goes on at a bank and trip to the University of Indianapolis. At the university, students tour the campus and talk with college students, financial aid officers, professors, and admissions officers about the different options open to them in college. At a graduation ceremony, each student that completes the course is presented with a certificate. Richardson-Sow said, “I’ve seen my kids grow exponentially when they take part in this program.”
 
Satianne said, “I’m excited about almost everything we cover. Savings accounts, checking accounts, I want to learn about it all.”
 

Clarington Farrington’s partnership with Fifth Third Bank’s Young Bankers Club is an exciting opportunity to connect academic standards to the realities of college, career and moneythe students will soon face. Indianapolis Public Schools is proud to be a part of it and happy to see both the program and our students thrive.