High school students throughout the nation are getting a leg up in the job market by getting started now. The Academy of Finance, one of three educational programs of the National Academy Foundation (NAF), introduces high school students to career opportunities in the financial services industry, while equipping them to make sound choices for the future. The NAF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit partnership of education and business leaders.
The Academy of Finance supports local program activities in high schools (referred to as Academies). The Academies enable and encourage students to participate in paid internships at financial services corporations and to obtain employment in the financial services industry or to pursue higher education after graduation. Under NAF's guidance, there currently are more than 12,000 students enrolled in more than 200 Academies in nearly 100 school districts.
In St. Louis, Beaumont High School recently was selected as the first Academy of Finance school in the area. As of September, Beaumont students interested in careers in the financial services industry now are able to apply for enrollment in the special four-year program thanks to an educational partnership between The Copeland Companies and the NAF.
Floyd Crues, principal of Beaumont, said the NAF will provide curriculum, technical assistance and teacher training. The NAF, working cooperatively with educators and experts within the finance industry, developed the curriculum used in Academy courses. The foundation selects teachers from existing staff and requires them to participate in special industry-specific training offered by the NAF's business partners.
During their freshman year, students have a six-week shadowing experience and a stipend provided by business partners. Students who successfully complete their junior year in the Academy program are offered a paid, on-the-job summer internship between their junior and senior years to gain practical experience and apply classroom learning.
"These experiences will better prepare today's Beaumont students for finance-related careers of tomorrow," Crues said. "These kids will now know how to manage their money, not just how to make money."
Curtis Stewart, an English teacher at Beaumont who teaches Academy students, said the experience has been "very rewarding for me. We are laying a foundation for these students and exposing them to an element of the business world that they would have never been exposed to."
Carol Teicher, chairperson of the Advisory Board for the St. Louis Academy and regional manager with The Copeland Companies, said her company helped to form the Academy in St. Louis because it expects fewer young people will enter the workforce in the next decade, and most of them will not be truly qualified for the jobs that will exist.
"The Academy will provide a vital link between the classroom and the workplace," she said.
The Beaumont Academy is seeking other sponsors to help make this program a success. With money provided by sponsors, Beaumont can purchase computers, printers, subscriptions to financial periodicals/books and other resources that are needed to help the students become productive in the financial arena. To find out how your company can become a sponsor or about the roles of sponsors, call Teicher at (314) 469-0404.