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Wings Financial Credit Union, in partnership with Banzai, is offering a similar financial literacy program aimed at high school students. The Wings curriculum is available to schools in portions of Dakota, Ramsey and Hennepin counties at no cost.

Mark Goldman, director of corporate communications for TCF Bank, speaks at a special graduation for students who completed the TCF Bank Financial Scholars Program as part of a personal finance class March 27 at Eden Prairie High School.

The students are among the first in Minnesota to complete the teacher led program, an online curriculum that arms teens with financial life skills. The curriculum is designed by EverFi, an education technology company.

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Equipping future leaders with financial skills

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"Banzai is a web based financial literacy program. Students get their own accounts, and work through assignments that are based on real life," said Morgan Vandagriff, co founder of Banzai. "More than ever, it's important that students develop sound financial skills to prepare them for the real world, and Wings realizes that and they're doing something about it."

Personal finance students at EPHS celebrated completion of the new TCF Bank Financial Scholars Program with a special graduation ceremony March 27 at EPHS.

districts in the communities that TCF serves.

Goldman, director of corporate communications for TCF Bank. "This provides a greater opportunity for personal success. By reaching high schoolers, we're able to give them a leg up."

In addition to speeches by educators, State Rep. Jennifer Loon and TCF Bank representatives spoke of the value financial education brings to students.

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"This course is not required, but the certification really validates the work students do," Eisenreich said. "This is really something they could take to an employer and put on their resume to show that they have money management skills."

Students at Eden Prairie High School are tackling a different form of literacy: financial literacy.

For seniors, like Mark Hodges II, this new course is beneficial to stepping out into independent college life.

This program is free to schools and educators.

"I didn't really know any of this stuff before," said junior Sara Bergen. "I learned a lot and they made everything easy to understand."

Banzai is an interactive, online program supplemented by printed workbooks which aligns with state curriculum requirements for personal finance education. The Institute for Financial Literacy awarded Banzai the Curriculum of the Year award in 2010. It has become the largest program of its kind, servicing more than 10,000 schools in all 50 states.

These students are fighting the dismal trend where nearly half of teens (45 percent) feel clueless about money management, according to TCF.

"Handling finances is much more complicated now," Loon said "You have the knowledge to make these decisions and do well."

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At the ceremony, students provided demos of the financial literacy curriculum that included video, animations, and 3 D programming, sharing the benefits they found from the course.

geared toward high school students. It is currently being used in more than 340 local schools and school Nike Zoom Matumbo 3

"You're never too young to learn about finance," said Mark Nike Kyrie Men's

"I learned about how to use credit cards wisely," Hodges said. "I didn't know a whole lot about these topics before. My understanding expanded through this course."

State Rep. Jennifer Loon, R Eden Prairie, shakes Eden Prairie High School student Candice Niven's hand during a special graduation ceremony March 27 after Niven received her certificate for completing the TCF Bank Financial Scholars Program as part of a personal finance class. (Sun Current staff photos by Natalie Conrad)

Nearly 30 students completed the program as part of EPHS teacher Jim Eisenreich's personal finance class. Eisenreich, who has taught the course for 16 years, said he has used other computer based instruction, but likes the certification aspect of this new program.

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The program includes six to eight hours of classroom instruction combined with an interactive online Nike Metcon Grey Gum Bottom learning platform Nike Metcon 2 Women Rose Gold

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Minnesota has 2,000 students participating in the online course this year. Topics cover savings and investments, mortgages, overdraft, payment types and credit cards, credit scores and reports, identity protection, insurance and protection, and financing higher education.

Students using the program are exposed to real life scenarios where they learn to pay bills and balance a budget. Students must learn to manage unexpected expenses such as parking tickets, interest charges and overdraft fees. The educational program also introduces students to auto loans, bank statements, entertainment costs, savings and more.

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