Arkansas: Banks, Educators Bring World of Finance to High Schools

Bankers and educators in Arkansas formed a special bond several years ago when they joined forces to create a special program for teen-agers. The program, called Banking on the Future, was formed in 1997 to educate the teen-agers not only in financial literacy but also about possible careers in the world of finance.

Banking on the Future started as a collaborative effort between the Arkansas American Institute of Banking—now known as the Center for Financial Training, South Central States—and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Education. It is part of a national school-to-work effort in the United States that is attempting to make school curriculums more relevant to the workplace.

The fundamental element of the Banking on the Future program is educating high school students in the basics of banking and finance. The goal is two-fold: that each student will become a better consumer of financial services, thus having a positive economic impact on the community; and that the financial services industry will have a source of trained entry-level job candidates in local communities.

Currently, 86 public high schools in Arkansas offer the Banking on the Future program, which is one of the core curriculums under the Business/Marketing/Technology career path. (In Arkansas, public high school students are required to select a career path. The Business/Marketing/Technology option is one of five available choices.) Banking on the Future provides textbooks and related materials to the schools and offers in-service training to teachers.

As part of the program, students gain an understanding of banking and finance concepts that will enhance their personal lives regardless of their chosen field of work. It includes a series of four, one-semester courses that are targeted for 11th- and 12th-graders. They include: Banking and Finance Principles, Banking and Finance Operations, Banking and Finance Law, and Principles of Consumer Finance.

The Center for Financial Training has also introduced three new courses for the program: Introduction to Financial Planning, Introduction to Investments and Securities, and Introduction to Insurance and Risk Management. The center is also working with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Education to establish several teller training schools across the state.

All of this is possible because of the strong commitment of volunteer bankers throughout the state. These bankers assist teachers in their own communities by speaking in the classrooms and by bringing students to banks so that students get a first-hand look at banking operations and services. In addition, high school business teachers are offered internships, and high school students are offered job opportunities to give them real-world experience to supplement classroom education.

For more information on the Banking on the Future program, contact Debbie Sefcik, executive director of the Center for Financial Training, South Central States, at (501) 372-0940 (telephone) or (501) 372-1142 (fax).

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