Here is an update from grant recipient, Rob Phelan, who advised this program on behalf of his students. Money in the Valley was held to help members of the Middletown community learn more about financial literacy topics and feel empowered to handle their money. They partnered with local financial professionals and the high school to provide educational presentations on the topics of budgeting, investing, and starting a business.

In early January, a local realtor reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in partnering to provide some form of personal finance education to the local community where I teach. She had just finished a personal finance course of her own and was on “FIRE” to try and help others learn the same things she did. As a personal finance teacher and advocate for financial education, I was naturally on board with the idea, but instead of keeping this project for just the two of us, I proposed inviting my students to be a part of the process.

I teach a class of personal finance for senior students at Middletown High School and I love finding new and engaging ways to guide my students through learning about their money and the world which they will shortly occupy as independent adults. By inviting the realtor in to speak to my students and share her ideas, we were able to brainstorm about the problems faced by members of the community related to money and search for solutions that could help solve the problem. Several different ideas were proposed, but we ended up settling on a community financial literacy night where adults and teens would be invited to come learn together from local expert speakers.

Money in the Valley Flyer

The students surveyed members of the community to determine the topics that were most in demand, created a registration page, built social media graphics and email templates, organized expert speakers, partnered with a food truck to provide snacks, and secured the location for the event at the high school. We also successfully applied for a Plutus Foundation Grant which was instrumental in bringing this event to life and keeping admission free for attendees.

On April 19th it all went down with members of the public coming back to high school to learn about money alongside their teens and neighbors. Our speakers spoke engagingly about starting a business, beginning to budget, and investing in real estate, with many other core ideas from personal finance making their way into the conversation. The audience was able to get questions answered and left with action steps in each presentation area to start on immediately.

Money in the Valley

Feedback from the event was very positive with a general consensus that we should host it again next year. One attendee shared with us “I wanted to take time to thank and congratulate all of the students who participated in bringing to the school & Middletown community ‘Money in the Valley’! Great idea! The students were friendly and they put together a very interesting program!”

A huge thank you to The Plutus Foundation, Middletown Valley Bank, and Nymeo Federal Credit Union for their support of this event and the work of our students.

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