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AHFC Goes Back to School to Teach Personal Finance

2018-01-18

 

 

In 2015, American Honda Finance Corporation (AHFC) partnered with Junior Achievement USA (JA) to redevelop the JA Personal Finance® program, a volunteer-led curriculum that teaches financial literacy to students. This fall, AHFC associates in Torrance taught the newly redesigned program to area students, volunteering their time and knowledge to help give teens a foundation for making informed financial decisions in the future.

The JA Personal Finance program supports AHFC’s goal of helping teens become more mindful of the financial responsibilities they’ll face as adults. The first five weeks of the eight-week program were taught by AHFC volunteers and covered topics such as budgeting, saving, credit and debt, and consumer protection.

Over the last two years, AHFC and JA redesigned the program as blended learning, combining multi-media online content with activities and discussions. The program includes videos and online tools, augmented by the real-life experiences and guidance provided by AHFC mentors.

The volunteers receive training and resources to familiarize them with the blended format. A primary goal of the redevelopment was to create lessons that could be easily administered by volunteers.

There’s sufficient structure for you to go through it and feel comfortable you are hitting all the points,” says Stephen Roberts, AHFC assistant vice president of Business Technology Solutions. “And you can insert your own financial experiences to help the students connect with the material.”

The JA Personal Finance (Blended) program was launched in April 2017.  It was followed by a comprehensive impact study to gauge its effectiveness. Students, teachers and volunteers who participated in the program were surveyed, and the results were decidedly positive.

Survey Snapshots:

  • 82% of students experienced an increase in knowledge over the course of the program

  • 89% of students had a more positive attitude about personal finance after the program

  • 83% of teachers and 100% of volunteers agreed that the program has a positive impact on their students

 

AHFC associates got their first opportunity to teach JA Personal Finance (Blended) when they visited Narbonne High School in Torrance from October through November 2017. Twenty three associates from AHFC’s corporate office volunteered in pairs to guide students though the planned lessons each week.

“It’s an opportunity to enrich the lives of young people and pay it forward,” says David Medrano, AHFC Manager of Training and Development.  “In many ways, the same things that challenged me in high school challenge them today. The difference is they have much more access to information.”

JA Personal Finance (Blended) presents students with the right information. “They had a lot of misconceptions. It was good to show them some facts that they can share with their parents,” says Cesar Salazar, claims analyst in AHFC’s Customer Assurance Products department.

Having those facts presented by AHFC associates has benefits, says Roberts. “It’s invaluable to have people come into the school that they don’t know, who have a different set of experiences than other adults in their lives, and have a command of the subject area. It’s powerful because this is what we do.”

Salazar agrees that having volunteers adds to the impact. “It’s inspiring and encouraging to students who may see someone like them, maybe from another country, who has a good job working for Honda. Maybe they’ll hear something that will trigger them to learn more. Maybe they’ll choose this as a career path and work for a financial services company.”

The volunteers agree that the experience was enriching for them as well.

“It’s very gratifying. Once you’ve shared some valuable info, it’s very humbling,” says Salazar.

“It helped me to see where the minds of young people are these days, what dreams they have, what their aspirations are, and keep in touch with that generation,” says Medrano.

Now that the JA Personal Finance program has proven successful as an out-of-the-box volunteer solution and an effective learning tool for students, the goal is to expand its reach to more students. The volunteer opportunity will be extended to associates at AHFC’s ten regional offices and American Honda Motor Co. in fiscal year 2019.

“At American Honda Finance Corporation, financial education is a priority,” says Rhonda Endo, manager of Marketing Communications, AHFC, and JA volunteer. “It’s important to us as a company to be involved in our communities, and one way we’re doing that is by teaching financial literacy to high school students. The program we’ve designed with Junior Achievement will help bring that education to more students nationwide, and we’re proud to be a part of that effort.”

The future of the JA Personal Finance program may also include a bilingual version. Salazar wants to take the program to Spanish-speaking students. “I want to share this information with people who have come from other places and are learning the language and learning how credit works here. I want to help people set a goal and learn how to plan for it, like buying a house. It enables people to dream.”

For AHFC, helping students understand personal finance is the key to making dreams possible.

It’s a goal shared with Junior Achievement USA, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. During the second year of implementation of the program, JA Personal Finance was taught to 89,000 students nationwide, with 20,000 of them learning on the new blended platform developed with AHFC. JA’s future plans include integrating the Personal Finance program into its global curriculum to reach students worldwide.


 

 

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