Regions, EverFi Help Atlanta Students Invest in the Future and Their Dreams
More than 150 high school students graduate from financial education program during ceremony at Morehouse College.
Feb. 26, 2014 - Eric Smith is a high school junior who dreams of becoming a crime scene investigator. For the South Atlanta High School student, it’s a goal that began as whimsy at the start of the school year, yet now looks like one he can make a reality.
“I’ve learned so much through the financial education program,” Smith said. “I’ve learned how to find student loans and different ways to pay for college. I’ve learned how credit scores and good credit are the key to my future.
“I used to be a typical kid. When I got money, I’d go buy some sneakers. I love clothes and sneakers. But this program taught me how to save and plan for essentials and my future. Now I have a dream and a way to make it happen.”
Smith was one of more than 150 inner-city Atlanta high school students honored at Morehouse College Tuesday for their participation in the Regions Financial Scholars Program, a financial education course designed to empower young people with the essential skills needed to make sound financial decisions.
Judge Glenda Hatchett, a groundbreaking Atlanta jurist with a national platform due to her former television show, Judge Hatchett, spoke to the students before awarding them certificates for the class work.
Hatchett told the students they could be anything they wanted to be if they set their sights high and took control of their financial security.
“Do not let the haters rob you of your dream,” Hatchett said. “People are going to tell you that you can’t do it. But there is a dream with your name on it.”
The Regions Financial Scholars Program is offered to high school and university students in multiple states throughout the Regions’ footprint. Regions sponsors the interactive, Web-based program that was developed by leading education technology company EverFi.
Sidiamond Stills, a senior at Booker T. Washington High, is one step closer to his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer. He has been offered a scholarship for engineering at Texas A&M. While Stills is a member of the Finance and Investment Academy at his school, he said the Regions program expanded his knowledge immensely.
“It gave me a bigger picture with details I’ll need as I grow up,” Stills said. “For instance, the use of credit cards and student loans, subjects I knew nothing about. To tell the truth, I didn’t know there was help for someone trying to pay their way through college.”
Bill Askew, Regions’ senior executive vice president of strategic initiatives, the department spearheading the creation of the Regions Financial Education Institute, spoke to the high school students and said he was “blown away” by the event.
“This is the essence of shared value,” Askew said. “What we do for our communities with financial education with these kids will impact their communities. And when they’re successful, they’ll go back to their parents and help them find success.
“This wasn’t just 150 students; this was an inner-city community that now understands financial education and is ready to tackle the world.”
South Atlanta High Principal Patricia Ford said the graduation ceremony rewarded students who not only put in the work but also were exposed to a college environment – many for the first time.
South Atlanta High business teacher Johnny Taylor said his biggest reward was seeing the faces of students light up as they were recognized and praised for their achievements.
“When the light bulb goes off, that’s what motivates educators to go into this profession,” Taylor said. “To see kids get into it and then say, ‘I’m going to teach my mom this,’ that’s amazing.”
Hatchett praised Regions and EverFi for their involvement in teaching financial education. Ford and Taylor thanked Regions and EverFi for including their students in the program.
Taylor said he had no doubt that the financial education curriculum would stick with his students for years to come. Those who dreamed big now had a way to make the dream a reality.
“One thing I teach my students: Don’t let your current situation dictate your final situation,” Taylor said.