With both students and their families, educators have earned a great deal of trust. Parents rely on these individuals to not only impart academic knowledge on students, but also to serve as a role model throughout their educational journey. That’s why, when it comes to sparking a positive association with financial knowledge and saving early-on, teachers are primed to play a critical role for pointing students in the right direction. KickStart to Career Muskegon County, a Children’s Savings Account program as part of the Michigan Children’s Savings Account (CSA) Network, is tapping into this potential through its new Teacher Champion ambassadorship program.
Through this new initiative, Muskegon County educators will be offered grants of $250 each to become KickStart to Career Champions, where they will be provided a training and information session on KickStart to Career’s initiatives and will help the program develop methods to engage their students and families. Teachers will report back on how they executed their KickStart Champion work, and their reporting will be compiled into a “KickStart Champion Toolkit” which will serve as a resource to other CSA programs.
In addition to a Teacher Champion program, KickStart to Career Muskegon County plans to empower high school seniors taking a course in personal finance to become Student Ambassadors. These ambassadors, each with a different plan for their future, will be invited to share their goals for the future with younger students to model what planning for life after high school looks like.
KickStart to Career Muskegon County will begin its increased engagement efforts by focusing on three districts that historically have had lower engagement in the program. The three districts collectively serve approximately 7,050 students in grades K-12, 56% of whom are students of color and 78% who are considered economically disadvantaged. The strategy behind focusing on these districts is to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion for program participants.
To get the ball rolling, the program will host a Deposit Day in every kindergarten through 4th grade classroom in these districts, where funds will be used to ensure all students are able to make a deposit in their account. Each student will receive a $5 deposit into their KickStart account. These Deposit Days are designed to generate excitement and to inspire students to feel ownership of their own account.
The Teacher Champion program is supported by one of CEDAM’s Innovative Project Grants, which awarded four CSA programs with $50,000 to implement projects that will enhance program impact and advance the state’s CSA field. This initiative was selected based on its emphasis to prioritize focus on reaching historically marginalized communities to increase student and family participation.
Ultimately, KickStart to Career Muskegon County’s new initiative is built on a simple yet powerful concept: the power of educators as trusted familiar faces, known to have their students’ best interest at heart. Teacher Champions will help distribute information and drive engagement for KickStart to Career Muskegon County’s efforts. By focusing on specific districts and adding a personal touch, the program’s initiative has the power to shape the goals of young students in Muskegon County and empower them to see that their dreams are within reach.