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Pima Medical Institute, The San Marcos Promise and California Coast Credit Union team up to teach students about financial literacy

Posted: February 11, 2020 by Diane Smith
Photo of Students celebrating successfully completing the “Bite of Reality” budgeting workshop
Students celebrate successfully completing the “Bite of Reality” budgeting workshop.

Pima Medical Institute along with The San Marcos Promise and California Coast Credit Union kicked off 2020 by hosting a two-day financial literacy workshop at San Marcos High School in San Marcos, California. The Future You Initiative aims to provide students with a no-cost opportunity to learn valuable financial literacy lessons to strengthen their knowledge of personal finance. More than 50 students attended the workshop, which was voluntary.

“We recognized a need in the school district and a desire from students to learn these necessary life skills,” said Lisa Stout, Executive Director, The San Marcos Promise. “Being able to offer this program with our partners gives students the knowledge and confidence they need to navigate these real-world financial situations when they encounter them after high school.”

The workshop brought in various experts to teach students about debit cards, credit cards and building credit. Students also learned how to open a bank account, write checks and begin to navigate their financial futures.

Photo of John Hanson, Regional Director of Operations with Pima Medical Institute speaking to students about planning for college. John Hanson, Regional Director of Operations with Pima Medical Institute spoke to students about planning for college.
John Hanson, Regional Director of Operations for Pima Medical Institute, spoke to students about planning for college. An eye-opening experience for many in attendance.

“Whether it is a traditional four-year university, or career and technical education at a college like Pima Medical, we feel strongly that empowering students with knowledge that can be used immediately is very important,” said Hanson. “The opportunity to share this knowledge with these students, who voluntarily came to this workshop, shows not just a need to teach this information, but a desire by students to learn.”

One particular activity, led by the California Coast Credit Union, gave students a look at real-world finances with a Bite of Reality.

Bite of Reality is a budgeting workshop. Students get a profile sent to their smart phones that includes everything from a spouse and child and a monthly budget. They are required to meet with eight merchants and make purchases. The goal is to go to all eight tables and have money left over. Many run out too soon and have to try repeatedly until they master their budgets.

“This program will provide the students with a better understanding of their own personal finances when they actually get out in the real world,” said Mike Hollister, Senior Community Relations Specialist, California Coast Credit Union. “The comment that I hear the most from school administrators is that they wish they had a program of this magnitude when they were in high school. California Coast Credit Union takes pride in providing financial literacy to students in the San Marcos Unified School District.”  

Emma Meng, a student who attended the workshop, was one of the first to finish the exercise. She said she was surprised at the cost of many things in the real world.  “It was really eye opening, and I underestimated what a lot of items cost,” Meng said.  She says she would highly recommend to other students. “I think it’s a great chance to experience what things cost, before you actually have to face it in the real world.”

Pima Medical Institute’s High School Education Coordinators were instrumental in planning the workshop and said many of the topics come from their own experiences, and the stresses and budgetary struggles they have dealt with in their own lives.

“Many of the workshop topics we chose to cover are based on topics we had to teach ourselves as adults because no one taught us about them in school,” said Amanda Yantzer, High School Education Coordinator, Pima Medical Institute. Both Amanda and her Education Coordinator partner Roy Huerta presented to the students about student loan debt and scholarship options that can help them pay for school. Despite the two being subject matter experts, it was the ability to team with California Coast Credit Union, Pima Medical Institute and the San Marcos Promise that made all the difference.

“Partnerships were key for this workshop to be so successful,” Yantzer added. “We were able to call on the California Coast Credit Union for the Bite of Reality activity and Pima Medical Institute’s John Hanson shared his knowledge on preparing for college and weighing the cost benefits of higher education.”

“Our role is unique and we are fortunate to be in this position,” she added.  “Pima Medical identified a need in the school district and our nation overall. That need involves providing more guidance and education on topics that directly relate to their career plans, post-secondary education options, and their lifestyle goals, which includes learning how to manage their personal finances. In our role as high school education coordinators, we can provide that guidance to all of our students who want to feel confident about their futures.”

“Financial Literacy has gained considerable attention nationally as a critically important component of a young adult’s success. This is typically underrepresented in high school curriculum,” said Fred Freedman, President and CEO, Pima Medical Institute. “This workshop is just the start of beginner, intermediate and advanced financial literacy workshops in San Marcos and other school districts.”

“This workshop is so important,” said Huerta. “There are no courses in high school that teach about personal finance. Many of these students do not know what a credit score is, or what interest rates are. This really is an amazing experience for the students. There’s a great turnout and it shows there’s a need.”

The organizations responsible for this workshop are already planning to expand into other school districts in the San Diego area.

For more information go to The San Marcos Promise, Pima Medical Institute and California Coast Credit Union.  

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