Future Business Leaders of America students at Timpanogos High School are involved in a multi-faceted service project intended to infuse the community with a better understanding of principles of financial literacy.
One of those facets is the planning of an upcoming community meeting to be held Jan. 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the school's Little Theater. All interested members of the public are invited to the presentation to be given by credit expert Al Bingham. There is no charge to attend.
Bingham has developed a workshop known as "The Drive to 850" -- 850 being a reference to the highest credit score that can be attained. The national and international lecturer is donating his fee, said THS business teacher and FBLA adviser Mike Sellars. FBLA students will deliver fliers publicizing the event to the Timpanogos community. The hope is to draw about 100 participants to hear Bingham address the topic on how to improve one's credit score.
Thirty FBLA members have also been involved this year in taking a computer presentation to a total of 13 elementary schools in Orem, Lindon and Pleasant Grove.
Senior FBLA president Dallan Anderson said groups of two or three club members have presented the program, called "BeMoneySmart," to fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at the schools. The younger students are taught about the importance of budgeting and saving money, and at the end of the lesson, participate in a sticker activity that allows them to decide how to spend their money in various categories -- food, clothing, entertainment, charitable donations and savings.
Those who choose to save 10 percent or more of their money were given a surprise reward -- a large taffy candy, while those who saved a lesser amount, or none at all, receive a small piece of the candy.
The impact of the object lesson about delaying gratification for greater rewards is powerful, both Anderson and junior FBLA president Haylee Pettis agreed.
Sophomore FBLA president Aaron Sellars said teaching the lessons to the elementary students has been "a great experience."
With two more schools to go, about 2,100 students have heard the presentation, and Mike Sellars estimated that the FBLA members will have logged 500 to 750 hours when the project is complete.
Lunchtime seminars (with lunch provided for participants) at Timpanogos in November and December have been another part of the service initiative. About 110 of the FBLA students' peers attended each of the five seminars to hear a speaker from Mountain America Credit Union give information on the importance of credit reports and monitoring, and how to budget, keep money safe, avoid identity theft and manage bank accounts.
This is the fourth year the Timpanogos FBLA has worked on the financial literacy project, and success has come in competition at both the state and national levels. Last year, in addition to taking high honors at the state level, Timpanogos placed second and fourth in nationals. But Mike Sellars said new elements are added each year to "change things up" and keep the activities fresh.
At the end of January, Oak Canyon Junior High career technology education students will be on the receiving end of a pilot project that will have the Timpanogos FBLA students teaching the economic principle of supply and demand. If the program is successful, it will likely be expanded.
Another change that is being worked out is taking the BeMoneySmart program to local Spanish-immersion elementary classes.
"Every year, the kids set high goals, and I think, 'We'll never make it,' " Mike Sellars said. "But they do."