Students at James Hubert Blake High School in Silver Spring soon will be able to know more about their finances thanks to EverFi Inc. — an online program that the school has begun integrating into its courses that teaches students about financial literacy.
EverFi is a six- to eight-hour online course where students learn about finances, including loans, checking and savings accounts, credit scores and grace periods through a mix of interactive games and audio.
The program is available to schools in all 50 states, including 19 schools that have taken advantage of the program so far in Montgomery County, said Bria Barker, Blake High School’s manager for EverFi, at the county program’s second-year launch Dec. 14 in one of Blake’s computer labs.
Barker said she hopes students learn that finances don’t have to be so scary.
“We want them to be prepared to succeed because we find that student loan management and student debt is the second indicator of dropping out of college,” she said. “Even if you’re the smartest student in the world and you don’t have anything holding you back, some things like bad decisions around money can hold you back.”
Blake teacher Cindy Gleason helped write the curriculum for College Career Resource and Development, a two-year program for underclassmen to learn about themselves and their careers. Gleason said she began integrating the EverFi system because financial literacy is such a “valuable tool.”
She said her students are able to pace themselves with the program, sometimes going home and getting ahead on the modules and competing against each other.
Sheera Smith, 17, a senior at Blake from the White Oak area of Silver Spring, said Friday that it was her second time using the program, but that she was learning a lot about how to manage her money.
“It’s interesting,” Smith said. “It’s not like just using a book to understand this stuff.”
Similarly, Deanna Chirigos, another 17-year-old senior at Blake from Silver Spring, said she learned the difference between commercial and retail banks, and how to save money.
“My dad complains about banking and all of that stuff, and I normally don’t even understand what he’s saying, but this really helped. I totally get it,” Chirigos said, noting that it was her first time using the modules. “It was really fun.”
Principal Christopher Berry said the program is great for 21st-century learners, noting that Maryland has made a commitment to the financial literacy of its students.
Representatives from Sandy Spring Bank with headquarters in Olney is one of the sponsors of the program. Bank representatives were on hand for the launch Friday. Senior Vice President Richard Prin said the bank is proud to be involved with this program.
“As a commercial banker at Sandy Spring, I can tell you the comments your teachers share with you are right on the money,” Prin told the students. “If you don’t take care of your personal finances — which you can learn from the EverFi program — you’re going to have an uphill battle.”