Jenny Walker: Accentra promotes financial literacy using award-winning Banzai program – Austin Daily Herald

Accentra Credit Union is committed to improving financial literacy. Financial literacy is knowing what finances are and how to spend, save and manage money effectively. Everyone has a “financial situation”, for some it is not very good, and for others it is very good. But everyone has one. Financial literacy is the ability to take control of your financial situation. As a credit union, we recognize that we are part of a community and that we are responsible for the financial health of the communities we serve.

You start learning the concepts of financial literacy at a very young age (e.g. the difference between a quarter and a penny), but financial literacy is not a one-and-done thing, it’s a process where you master and apply skills one at a time. It is a process of lifelong learning and growth.

Accentra CU has been proud to be an exclusive sponsor of Banzai since 2012, supporting 46 schools in Southeast Minnesota. 106 teachers and 7,720 students are already using Banzai’s incredible program. Banzai is an award-winning interactive content platform that teaches real-world finance and practical life experience in our communities.

Banzai allows students to practice managing their money and testing their decision-making skills.

Any teacher from any elementary level through adulthood can use Banzai as an addition to their curriculum. Banzai courses align with our state’s curriculum standards. In addition to Banzai for Schools, Accentra CU also offers Banzai Direct (free digital financial library) to all members of our communities.

“As a new teacher, finding these materials has been a great addition to my classroom and how to help me with ‘Adulting 101’ skills,” said Pine Island high school teacher Diane Banach. “I have 25 years of business experience, but I’m in my first year of teaching, so I really appreciate the real-world scenarios this program can bring to the classroom.”

There are four main Banzai courses. Each course has a pre-test, a course and a post-test. Each course can take up to two to six hours depending on the course you choose. Teachers have the option of using it as a class assignment or as a homework assignment. They can also order free booklets from their school with additional activities that follow the lessons. Tests are automatically graded, making it easy for teachers to track student progress. With schools closed, Banzai’s remote-friendly options have made teaching easier for teachers.

Banzai Junior (elementary, 8-12 years old)

• Students are given real-life scenarios in a pretend play on how to own and operate a lemonade stand.

• Students learn about income, business expenses, unexpected expenses, currency counting, sales tax, ATM withdrawals.

• The game makes reading, math and critical thinking fun.

Banzai Teen (Medium) and high school)

• Students are empowered to strive to earn money for college enrollment. The game guides students through financial basics as well as complex topics such as credit cards, auto loans, and insurance.

• Students learn about car loans, credit cards, mortgages, interest and fees, car insurance, buying a car, renters insurance, housing, overdrafts.

• No two paths are the same! Students gain new experience each time they play, allowing them to see new consequences for new actions.

Banzai Plus (High school)

• Introduces students to difficult real-life financial issues. Students’ spending habits accumulate over time as they deal with life’s setbacks, such as identity theft, unexpected expenses, and car insurance.

• Students must establish and maintain healthy credit, qualify for a mortgage, use insurance, and more, while managing a budget and working toward a savings goal.

• Other areas of interest are credit reports, credit scores, down payments, home buying, car buying, life insurance, retirement accounts.

Digital Citizenship (all the students)

• The goal of the program is to teach students how to use technology in a safe and responsible manner.

• Includes 2 modules: Internet Safety and Cyberbullying.

• Internet safety covers 7 main areas: empathy, how the Internet works, understanding user data, practicing digital literacy, recognizing the digital divide, practicing digital well-being, securing digital devices.

• Cyberbullying Blankets: This quick educational experience teaches students what cyberbullying is, how to spot it, and what they can do about it. Sample Topics Covered: Covers Malware, SSL Certificate, Secure Websites, Brute Force Attacks, Malicious Adware, Remote Access, Security Breaches, Password Security, Phishing , terms and conditions, public wifi

• Accentra CU not only sponsors schools, but we also support members of our community with a comprehensive, free digital library. The library includes financial articles, financial calculators and interactive financial coaching sessions. You can read all about tax planning, find out what the 50/30/20 rule means for you, calculate what it takes to pay off a credit card, estimate how much mortgage you can afford, and even more.

Topics Covered:

• Assurance

• Retirement

• To buy a house

• Taxes

• Budgeting

• Life changes

• Identity theft, quitting a job, wills, preparing a baby

• Loan and credit

• Smart life

•Start a business

About Veronica Richards

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