Money Matters for Kids
Financial responsibility is an important variable in the equation of life.
That’s why it doesn’t make sense to Ivory Kealani Lloyd that most children aren’t taught basic money skills. Without guidance at school or home, keiki are left to their own devices once they graduate from high school, and reality can be stark if they’re not financially prepared.
“Growing up here, you don’t necessarily have a lot of options, and if your parents don’t talk to you about finances or teach you anything, then you just don’t know,” says Lloyd, who admits she was one of those kids who had to learn to h a r d way.
The 2005 Kauai High School grad is involved in a promising effort to fix the problem. She is the new Kauai district manager for Junior Achievement of Hawaii, which officially set up shop on Kauai in August. The program provides curriculum for K-12 with a focus on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness.
“It’s exactly what we need,” she says.
Each grade learns something unique and lessons are age appropriate, progressing every year. Elementary school students, for example, learn the basics, such as the difference between “needs,” like food, and “wants,” like cell phones.
“We’re getting them to start thinking about money,” says Lloyd. “We’re trying to make them realize that everything has a price and everything is a choice.”
Lessons on balancing checkbooks and investing come later, as well as learning how to plan for a successful financial future. Lloyd has found that high school students have been stunned by the amount of information they are receiving in the program.
“It’s good that they’re overwhelmed because this is the stuff they need to know,” she says.
Nonetheless, she hopes that targeting kids when they’re younger will help alleviate these overwhelming feelings by the time they’re teens.
The program consists of one 45-minute session a week for five weeks. Trained volunteers are invited by schools, where they give lessons either during classes or after school. Financial gurus are part of the voluntary team and include representatives from Bank of Hawaii and Kauai Community Federal Credit Union. Business owners also visit classrooms to provide encouragement and let kids know they are capable of following a similar path.
“Those are the stories that we want in the classrooms to show the students, ‘you can do this,'” says Lloyd.
JA of Hawaii is based on Oahu and has been serving the islands for several decades. This is the first time, however, that the nonprofit has a district office on Kauai. Lloyd credits the board of directors for this initiative.
“They’re really what have been keeping this together,” she says.
Lloyd, who recently had baby Lennox Tama Toa with husband Jeremy, a valet at St. Regis Princeville Resort, is grateful to have a job that aligns with her values. Prior to landing her current position, she earned a political science degree from University of Hawaii at Manoa while working for the environmental organization Blue Planet Foundation. Her next journey took her to Madrid, Spain, where she earned an International
Master in Sustainable Development and Corporate Responsibility, thanks to a scholarship from Hanalei Bay Rotary Club to study abroad.
“My classes were like a mini United Nations,” she says about the eclectic mix of students from all over the world.
Her 10-month experience in another country was eye-opening. Before she arrived, she was adamant about sustainability and issues like fossil fuels. Though she still believes in combating them, she’s learned how much businesses and corporations play a vital role in communities “for the good.”
“I can see that the power they yield could really be a force for good, as well,” she says. “I want to break down the barriers we’re always fighting against corporations and businesses, and try to get them on a level playing field, and get the dialogue going, because in the end, we’re all people.”
She returned home with the intention of uniting people and cultivating productive conversation instead of demonstrating resistance.
“How can we get together and really reach a solution that works for everyone?” asks the Anahola resident.
She also learned that a community can’t be environmentally sustainable if it’s not balanced economically, so she understands the importance of teaching financial responsibility and money management.
“If we don’t take care of our people and we don’t take care of our pocketbooks, because that’s the bottom line, no one’s going to care about the environment,” she says.
She’s excited to be back on Kauai, where she will continue to grow the program and enlighten keiki about finances, in hope of a better economical, social and environmental future.
“Coming back was really important to me. I wanted to come back and bring something meaningful,” she says.
Visit https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-usa for more information.