Finance students to teach money skills to Pawtucket elementary children as part of Financial Literacy Month

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 27, 2022 – Five students from the College of Business’ Financial Management Association will visit M. Virginia Cunningham Elementary School in Pawtucket on Thursday, April 28, to teach a full day of classes on financial literacy to students as part of Financial Literacy Month. 

According to Michael Ice, senior lecturer in the College of Business and adviser of the association, the school children love the lessons they get from the URI students. The students in grades one through five are taught the concepts of buying, selling and taxes through the use of cutouts of items that they can buy with fake currency. 

“The cutest is when you get to the end and explain to the kids how taxes work, and you tell them they have to give some of their money back, and they don’t want to do it,” said Ice. “We help them understand the basic things of commerce with little examples and cutouts that are fun for the kids.” 

Ice and the association have been participating in this day-long event for approximately five years, but haven’t since 2019 due to the pandemic. Meghan Finley, a senior finance major from Ocean City, New Jersey, and the president of the association, will be among the URI students to teach at Cunningham Elementary. She previously took part in the program when it was last held. 

“At the beginning of the day, the kids are wondering ‘Who is this person in my class?’ By the end of the day they are running up to you, giving you a hug goodbye and asking when you’ll be coming back,” Finley said. “It’s a really good experience.” 

The association collaborates with representatives from the Chartered Financial Analysts Society in Providence, a group of local investment professionals, as well as Junior Achievement, a nonprofit committed to educating K-12 students about financial literacy and entrepreneurship, to organize the day of volunteering. 

Junior Achievement provides the URI students with organized lesson plans and training to equip them with the skills needed to teach the class. 

Ice said the day also serves as a great networking opportunity for the URI students. The five students will only be a portion of teachers visiting Cunningham Elementary School that day; the financial literacy lessons will be a school-wide experience and many professionals from the business field will teach the other classes. 

Finley is looking forward to the association participating in this philanthropic event again after the hiatus. Although only some members will be able to participate of the approximate 120 members, Finley believes it is important for students studying business and finance to engage with the community outside URI. 

“Finance students are often seen as people that only focus on big numbers and money, but an event like this gives us the chance to think about what are the financial basics? Where do we come from, and what is actually important?” Finley said. “Teaching these kids really brings you back to your roots. Even I learned something I didn’t even know as a college student.” 

This event has grown in the past few years as an emphasis on understanding the basics of financial literacy have become more important. A lot of the population is not financially literate, according to Ice, and there are varying levels of financial literacy among adults because of a lack of training in schools. Ice hopes that by starting the conversation early with young kids, it will help prepare them for years to come when taxes, loans and budgeting become more relevant in their lives. 

“If you start really young, second or third grade, and make it a lot of fun for them as they try to understand, at least they are beginning to understand how money flows and the financial system works,” Ice said. “And then take it to the high school levels and even to college campuses to continue that education.” 

Kate LeBlanc, a senior journalism and political science major at the University of Rhode Island and an intern in the Department of Communications and Marketing, wrote this press release.