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Businesses help Boca Raton student teach financial literacy

Way back in August, I wrote about the need to teach financial literacy.

I quoted Gregg Murset, the CEO of My Job Chart, an online community that teaches financial literacy, laying down the gauntlet of responsibility in the home, saying “it comes down to parents modeling good financial behavior.”

But you know what? It’s also up to businesses.

An example is the business community’s support for high school student Shayna Schulman, who is completing her sophomore year at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton. Financial literacy has been Shayna’s cause, or more precisely, teaching the concept of smart money management to younger students as a DECA Financial Literacy project.

“The time to teach business principles like saving, and patience, is when they are young,” she said, showing age-old wisdom.

So, Shayna wrote a 16-page children’s book, “Dylan and Peggy the Piggy Bank,” about a young girl who saves up her pennies to buy a bike rather than, say, fruitlessly spending it candy and immediate gratification. It’s a story Shayna said was inspired by her mother’s own quest to save up money to buy her own car when she was a young adult. (Read our May 9 Monday Meeting on attorney John Whittles — he talks tells how he saved money to buy a guitar when he was 14.)

Shayna and another student illustrated the book, and prepared a curriculum around it — basically a presentation in which she reads the book to schoolkids, plays a money game, and donates piggy banks personalized with each child’s name on it. But, most importantly, she encourages them to think about how they can save money for bigger needs and more meaningful wants.

“I thought it would be a nice, fun way to for them to understand the information rather than just to get up and talk about it,” she said.

Enter the business community. Shayna would have had to save a lot of quarters to afford the costs of printing hundreds of copies of her book. But 21 local businesses stepped forward to sponsor her project.

“Her project is right in line with what we teach about character and leadership,” said Cheong Park, grand master at Park’s Tae Kwon Do. “Shayna is very persistent, which is an admirable quality for someone her age.”

Shayna said she raised $1,500 through these partnerships, making it possible to print 500 copies of her book. She then donated 430 copies to four elementary schools in the Boca Raton area.

Now she’s started a GoFundMe page to fund more programs, including at Pine Grove Elementary in Delray Beach, a Title I school, and to take her project statewide.

And she, herself, has learned a couple things about business.

“I never realized how hard fundraising would be,” she said. “But I also saw how rewarding it is to see the kids get so much out of this.”

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