Nebraska Unwrapped: Financial literacy efforts rock students’ worlds

Nebraska Unwrapped: Financial literacy efforts rock students’ worlds

Gooding Band
Courtesy of Jennifer Davidson
Steven Gooding, of the band Gooding, talks with students at Lincoln Northeast High School about financial literacy following a concert at the school.

It has been another successful year for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In the spirit of the holiday season, we’re unwrapping the impact of the state’s flagship institution and taking a closer look at some highlights. Today, Nebraska Unwrapped is focusing on outreach. Other topics in the series include innovation, student experience and research.

On the surface, they’re strange bedfellows — rock and roll and financial literacy — but using music as a vehicle to teach hundreds of youths the value of saving money was wildly successful for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Nebraska Council on Economic Education.

Hosting rock concerts with a money management message led to middle and high school students who were engaged in the lessons, said Jennifer Davidson, director of the Nebraska Council on Economic Education.

“We had such positive results, we’re expanding the program next year,” Davidson said. “The students listened and reacted, asking really thoughtful questions about finances.”

Another new program rolled out this year was the Rockonomix music video competition. The national contest started 2010, but this is the first year Nebraska’s five state council offices worked with students to enter the contest. Fremont Public Schools’ entry won the state title, and were crowned national champions, too.

[VIDEO]: Nebraska Unwrapped — Outreach

That win was just one of many accomplishments the council marked in 2017. They also opened four new branches of the in-school savings program. These “bank branches” employ fifth-graders as tellers and allow all students to open a savings account and set financial goals. The program launched in 2002, and added one or two schools most years. Twenty-six schools are now part of the program.

“We set a goal that we were going to really expand this program and opening branches in four schools is really stunning,” Davidson said. “This is one of our favorite programs because it instills the habit of saving, and really becomes part of the school’s culture.”

Overall, the council, which includes five affiliated centers across the state, worked with 16,914 Nebraskans and trained 325 teachers. The five center directors had 86,449 contact hours in 2017.

Davidson said the most telling sign of the council’s success this year is the dialogue she’s having with schools.

“Educators all around the state are contacting us about hosting our programs in their schools,” Davidson said. “They’ve seen and heard of the positive results we’ve had.”

Here are more highlights of the way the university impacts all of Nebraska through its outreach efforts: