Knowledge and Insights

Money$peak Makes ‘Cents’ in Mercer County, NJ

October 2014

High school students throughout Mercer County, NJ are about to get competitive over financial literacy.

The Mercadien Foundation and Rider University have partnered with support from TD Bank, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company, and other community partners to bring Mercer County high schools and youth organizations an exciting and unique competition designed to enhance the personal finance curriculum. The program, called Money$peak, encourages small teams of students to create innovative presentations on financial literacy and compete on a countywide level at Rider University for prizes and bragging rights.

The program was developed through feedback from educators, school administrators, students, and community leaders and in response to the need for a better understanding of the financial choices Americans make every day. The Mercadien Foundation used in-depth research to determine the areas of greatest need in personal financial education and developed a program to meet those concerns. The program launches countywide in public and parochial schools and youth organizations this fall.

All students who are currently enrolled in or have already taken the personal finance curriculum are eligible to join a team of up to three fellow students to create a presentation on one of ten topics of personal finance. Presentations may take any form, including a video, song, standup comedy routine or any other multimedia presentation that teaches the chosen concept in three to five minutes. Each school or organization will hold the first level of competition among its own students; the winning team will represent its school or organization in the countywide competition, taking place in June of 2015.

Personal financial education isn’t new, but, since a 2010 mandate by the New Jersey Department of Education, a half-year course is now required to be completed by high school students in order to graduate.

Ninety-two percent of those surveyed by The Mercadien Foundation in 2013, including teachers and school administration, agreed the 21st Century Life and Career Standards curriculum, the requirements including personal finance and entrepreneurship, are helpful for students whether they’re going on to post-secondary schooling or immediately entering the workplace. With a solid grasp on their own personal finance, high school graduates are far more likely to succeed, save, and make better decisions related to money. The Money$peak competition is focused on increasing the emphasis on the personal finance curriculum in place and the visibility of personal finance education within the wider community.

Christopher Seiz, Executive Director of The Mercadien Foundation, stated, “While the financial curriculum standards began to change the conversation surrounding personal finance education, students continue to need information that relates to their lives and to be able to connect to it in their own language. We are pleased to lead efforts and provide solutions that improve students’ financial literacy and capability, meet the needs of educators and administrators, and benefit Mercer County.”

For more information on Money$peak and how to get involved, visit www.moneyspeak.org.

The Mercadien Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to create philanthropic and innovative programs to benefit the Mercer County community and New Jersey. In honor of The Mercadien Group’s 50th anniversary, it launched the financial literacy initiative.

The Mercadien Group is a family of companies created to serve the diverse and sophisticated needs of clients in a capacity greater than any single organization can offer. Comprised of six distinct entities and over 120 employees, the firm provides accounting, auditing, tax planning and compliance, management consulting, technology, wealth management, outsourcing, and investment banking services. A team of trusted advisors working together in one place, The Mercadien Group shares a broad knowledge base and creates seamless solutions that meet clients’ personal and business objectives.