Knowledge and Insights

New Jersey High Schools Create and Innovate at Regional Money$peak Competition

June 2017

Money $peak

Princeton, NJ – The regionally expanded third year of the Money$peak Competition, presented by the Mercadien Foundation and Rider University with participating student teams from surrounding New Jersey high school districts, kicked off to a crowd of supporters on Wednesday, June 7, 2017. To make it to this final competition, teams first competed in their district high schools. In total, nearly 50 teams representing over 180 students competed this spring to get to the final Money$peak Regional Competition at Rider University.

The challenge: Create a short, three-to-five minute, innovative presentation on a specific personal finance topic from the required high school personal finance course and present it to a panel of high-profile judges from the finance profession. Teams of two-to-four students used the important information learned in the classroom to creatively express their personal finance lessons in presentations to judges and audience members on stage at Rider University’s Bart Luedeke Center Theater.

The winning teams were:

First Place: “Rancocas Valley FLBA,” presenting on identity theft, from Rancocas Valley Regional High School, advised by teacher Carolee Gray. Team members: Kiah Champion, Grace Clothier, and Harleen Gill. $1,500 team award, $1,000 school grant for personal finance education.

Second Place: “Bordentown FBLA,” presenting on credit, from Bordentown Regional High School, advised by teacher Kara Lynch. Team members: Haasya Kanamarlapudi, Carly Mollin, Julia Mollin, and Ashling Wahner. $1,000 team award, $750 school grant for personal finance education.

Third Place: “Fraud Squad,” presenting on fraud, from Hopewell Valley Central High School, advised by teacher Suzanne Brown. Team members: Vicki Xie and Catherine Zhang. $500 team award, $500 school grant for personal finance education.

Honorable Mention: “The Future Entrepreneur Team,” presenting on fraud, from Montgomery High School North, advised by teacher Karen Cohen. Team members: Jessica Dong and Melissa Louie. $250 team award, $250 school grant for personal finance education.

Money$peak Competition winning student team, Rancocas Valley FBLA, from Rancocas Valley Regional High School, with judges. From left to right: Cynthia Newman (judge), Patricia Hartpence (judge) Grace Clothier, Kiah Champion, Harleen Gill, Ankit Patel (judge), Anthony Carabelli, Jr. (judge)

The Money$peak Competition was made possible through the generous support of The Mercadien Group, Rider University, and New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group.

Expert judges assessed teams on content, clarity, creativity, and performance. The judging panel included professionals from the financial field, including Anthony Carabelli, Jr., Business Advocate, Mercer County Office of Economic Development and Sustainability; Patricia Hartpence, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Giving, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group; Cynthia Newman, PhD, Dean, College of Business Administration, Rider University; and Ankit Patel, Senior Financial Counselor, Isles Financial Solutions.

“In 2010, when the New Jersey Department of Education implemented the half-year personal finance course requirement for high school graduation, students in New Jersey got the opportunity to take big steps toward a lifetime of financial wellness. From this starting point, the Mercadien Foundation seeks to encourage students’ forward momentum to ensure every one of them has a solid understanding of the basics of personal finance when they leave high school and enter their next stage of life. Money$peak lets students dive deeper into their curriculum by making their own presentations, taking the knowledge they’ve gained and creating their own educational material. With Money$peak, we’re helping to build a generation of young adults who take charge of their financial future and excel in their chosen fields,” says Christopher Seiz, Executive Director of the Mercadien Foundation.

“Rancocas is very excited about our win! We are so very grateful for the opportunity to attend and are so proud that our students did such a wonderful job,” says Carolee Gray, personal finance teacher at Rancocas Valley Regional High School.

Suzanne Brown, personal finance teacher at Hopewell Valley Central High School says, “Mercadien Foundation and the amazing sponsors have created an impressive event with the Money$peak program that allows students to apply the knowledge they’ve acquired throughout the year. It’s special because it requires them to engage at a higher level to create powerful messages about personal finance issues to present to others.”

Money$peak is the perfect opportunity to encourage students to come out of their comfort zones to master life skills such as time management, thorough research, being concise, knowing your target audience, maintaining confidence, and honing critical presentation skills. Money$peak is a win-win for everyone involved.”

Within the next few weeks, student presentations will be available on the Money$peak website,, for use by educators as they teach these areas of personal finance, bridging the gaps in financial education and creating a central clearinghouse for education material distribution.

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.

The Mercadien Group offers a full spectrum of accounting and advisory services, including traditional audit and financial reporting; federal, multi-state and international tax compliance and planning; compliance oversight, risk assessment and litigation support services; management and board consulting, as well as technology and wealth management solutions. Founded in 1963, the firm serves privately-owned companies of nearly every type and industry, as well as financial institutions, nonprofit organizations, government entities, and wealthy individuals and families. Learn more at

Rider University, founded in 1865, is a comprehensive, private, coeducational university located in Lawrenceville and Princeton, New Jersey. With approximately 5,500 students studying at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the areas of business, education, liberal arts and sciences, music and the fine and performing arts, Rider’s academic experience offers a personal approach that is celebrated for educating talented students for citizenship, life and career success. More information can be found at