“I would like to save my money so I can save for something bigger that I don't have enough money to buy right now.” So says Paisley Reha, a first grader in Rappahannock County Elementary School. She is one of 123 students so far who have personal savings accounts.
Just a year ago, FamilyFutures, opened the first round of savings accounts for RCES kindergartners. The second class received their accounts in October. For each new kindergarten class, FamilyFutures makes a $100 initial deposit. After that, all the way through graduation, students can earn up to $100 a year by completing tasks designed to grow financial knowledge and personal skills important for life-long success. The majority of students are on track to make that $100 a year. Total savings exceed $19,300.
The accounts and related activities also help the schools meet state mandates for college and career exploration, to graduate students who are life ready. Paisley has obviously learned a key lesson: how making a good decision now leads to better options in the future.
“The MyFuture program not only provides a growing fund for students in RCPS, it also introduces the skills to save money and make responsible financial decisions,” says Kelsa Knick, a kindergarten teacher. “This program will make a lasting impact on our young learners.
The tasks and decision-making will become more complex as the students grow older, but for now young students are working with coins, playing games that feature money, or thinking about their futures. Jenny Kapsa, the financial education coordinator, and Lacey Jenkins, program assistant, devise creative and fun activities to exercise the students’ imaginations.
During the COVID-19 shut down in the spring, Kapsa made sure the students received weekly mailings with instructions that maintained the learning curve and often brought parents into the process. This school year, Kapsa and Jenkins have adapted to on-site, four-day and remote enrollment to ensure that every student can earn the maximum additional deposits.
Popular tasks include making a time capsule or drawings of how students see their futures: what their careers might be, how much they would earn, and how they would use their earnings. Careers include teacher, artist, veterinarian, hair stylist, and at least one alligator catcher, among others.
Some, like Annabelle Anderson, say they will use their money to go to college. Abigail Jenkins would “love to buy a ton of art supplies.” Others would buy a rainbow or a rocket ship. More than one has a more serious goal in mind, such as a house for their family. Olivia Reid said, “I would save my money so I can adopt a kid one day, buy a house, and get a job.”
FamilyFutures board member Rosa Crocker notes, “We can see that even young children are often very aware of how money can shape opportunities for themselves and their families.”
This year FamilyFutures has also been able to offer high school student counselors at the Wonderful Wednesday camp small deposits if they put part of their stipends in a savings account. Six counselors so far have taken up the offer.
Lynnie Genho, who has five children in RCPS, says, “Family Futures has brought the discussion of saving and spending money into our home over the last year. From cash incentives that reward my working teens for deposits into their savings account to fun, interactive games that teach my little ones the value of coins, FamilyFutures provides real-life financial lessons and incentives that motivate my kids to want to save their money.”
FamilyFutures also encourages parents and other adults to take steps to think about their priorities and to set their own goals. Workshops and individual, confidential coaching are available at no charge, and the organization takes referrals from other nonprofits working with families. For more information on savings accounts or adult services, contact FamilyFutures: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information: www.familyfuturesva.org
Mail checks to: Family Futures, Box 570, Sperryville, VA 22740
FamilyFutures is a tax exempt charity under Section 501(c)3.
Gifts are fully deductible as allowed by law. Please consult your tax adviser.
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