OKANAGAN - A $6,630 grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation (COF) is helping Enactus students from Okanagan College continue their efforts to support financial literacy among elementary school children.
The grant from the COF is supporting the College students as they develop a new teacher resource page for the CAN$ave program, thanks to a large grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation. CAN$ave is an innovative award-winning financial literacy program aimed at Grade 1 and Grade 3 students, developed by Enactus students.
The elementary school participants learn the importance of buying for need over want, the differences between good and bad debt, and how to save for their future while putting money aside to help those in need. The program is taught using a simulated economy, allowing students to earn pay for things like good behaviour and for completing their CAN$ave workbooks. Students are also charged desk rent and are met with unforeseen expenses like the teacher’s SmartBoard breaking. Students are enticed by toys from a "store", which may cause the students to incur debt, which can be as frustrating for a six-year-old as it is for an adult.
“We see this as a valuable investment that will benefit grade school students, as well as support the work of socially-conscious College students doing good things in our community,” says Cheryl Miller, Central Okanagan Foundation, Director, Grants & Community Initiatives.
The Enactus team partnered with Valley First Credit Union, a division of First West Credit Union, which donated $25 to the charity of a class’s choice for each student who successfully completed the program. A Valley First representative also helped facilitate a lesson that teaches students how to open a savings account and how banking works. In the spring, over 200 students successfully completed CAN$ave, resulting in almost $5,000 donated to local charities.
This fall, the Enactus CAN$ave team hopes to significantly increase the number of students exposed to financial literacy. The creation of a teacher resource page means educators from across the province will be able to access CAN$ave curriculum and lesson plans free of charge.
“The grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation validates all of the hard work my team and our teacher partners have put into CAN$ave,” explains Abbey Jones, CAN$ave project manager. “We can't wait to see how much more impact we will have with these extra resources at our disposal.”
Jones, her team and area teachers will also be presenting CAN$ave to primary teachers from across the Central Okanagan at the School District 23’s Pro-D week before schools starts this September.
The $6,630 grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation is the second grant received for the CAN$ave program in the past few months. In April, the Central Okanagan Foundation for Youth and United Way's Gennext gave the Enactus team $2,000 to help purchase supplies for the CAN$ave program.
The CAN$ave program was introduced to teachers in January by Jones and a team of four other Okanagan College students. In the winter, Jones and CAN$ave team member Hannah Griffin, earned first place at the Western Canadian Enactus Championships. In May, the CAN$ave program was awarded second place at the Enactus Nationals, against 55 universities across Canada.
“Teaching financial literacy to students has been a wonderful experience,” Cody Troutman, another CAN$ave team member, said. “We've learned that you are never too young to learn these important life skills. When you see a seven-year-old starting to understand debt avoidance and how to save to help others, you really know that you are making a difference in someone’s life.”
“The Enactus OC students have put a tremendous amount of effort into creating and implementing CAN$ave,” Okanagan College Professor Devin Rubadeau said. “It's very rewarding seeing other community programs come to our aid as Okanagan College students work to educate youth about the perils of debt and not saving for their future.”