Financial program for C.H.A.T. students gets boost

Published 9:38 pm Friday, January 23, 2009

C.H.A.T. Academy got a little help funding its Junior Achievement Program, which teaches students financial responsibility.

The school received a $500 check from the Selma Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

“We’re just so thankful the Deltas have come forward with a hand of partnership,” said Principal Bertram Pickney.

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Pickney volunteered with Junior Achievement while he was working with General Motors in Anderson, Ind. When he became principal at C.H.A.T., Pickney saw the need to bring the program to the school. So he implemented Junior Achievement during the 2006-2007 school year at C.H.A.T. Last year, about 100 students took part in the program.

“I saw the impact it had,” Pickney said. “I though what a wonderful program that would be to develop some financial literacy.”

There are different modules within the Junior Achievement Program. Pickney chose the Junior Achievement Finance Park of the financial module, which teaches students about banking, budgets, investments and taxes.

Jennifer Bone, who teaches world history at C.H.A.T. and sponsors Junior Achievement, said students love the hands-on approach of the program. Bone develops investment games that give the students a concrete idea of how financial management works.

“I think the students like to do things more when it’s hands-on,” she said. “That was a good tool for them.”

Bone also taught students how to balance checkbooks and how to smartly use credit cards. It sounds simple, but many students are not exposed to financial planning at home.

“They had no clue about any of those things,” Bone said.

The program is designed to teach students about fiscal responsibility at a young age. Pickney said when he was a student, there were no programs or classes that taught financial management and responsibility. For young people, the lure of credit cards can be overwhelming if they do not how to manage their spending.

“I think the whole focus of what we’re trying to do is just help students at a young age,” Pickney said.

The Deltas were more than happy to help, too. Terri Barnes-Smith, chairperson of the sorority’s economic development committee, said fiscal responsibility is critical, particularly during the current economic climate. She wants students to learn how do more than just live paycheck-to-paycheck.

“You need to be able to do more than survive, you need to thrive,” she said.

“You can’t spend every dime you get,” added sorority president Sadie Moss.

The $500 contribution is part of the sorority’s five-point program. They focus on different areas like economic development, educational development, international awareness and involvement, physical and mental health, and political awareness and involvement, within the community.

Usually the economic development committee focuses on adults. This year, Barnes-Smith said they wanted to focus on the future. So, the sorority reached out to C.H.A.T.

“We need to take a different route, to look at the children,” she said. “They need to learn financial management.”

Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan said the program not only teaches students fiscal responsibility, but it teaches them to become leaders.

“It does challenge our students,” Obasohan said. “Financial literacy is important not just for this moment, but at any time in your life. We need to take advantage of this opportunity to teach them that.”

Pickney said there is so much more the program offers, even within the financial module. C.H.A.T. has only begun to scratch the surface.

“We have big aspirations to go even beyond that,” Pickney said.