On Tuesday, December 13th, eight volunteers from BlackRock’s Latin America & Iberia team traveled from midtown to the Bronx to give a tasty lesson on financial responsibility to four classes of 9th graders at the Bronx Envision Academy (BEA).
These students, led by CWP Teaching Artists Pamella Allen and Nancy Volante, have been working on a collaborative visual arts and writing residency, focused on asking specific questions, such as:
- How can observation of a creative work/ performance piece be used as a starting point for a literary work?
- How can the voices of the oppressed be transformed/made more powerful through art?
- What is freedom for the individual and the community?
However, on this particular Tuesday, they had the pleasure of meeting professionals in the financial industry and learning specific skills that will help prepare them for life after high school.
The volunteers began by introducing themselves. They spoke about their jobs, backgrounds and interests in high school and beyond. What is so wonderful about bringing a group like this into the school is that our students get to see how people from all over the world work to attain their goals. The volunteers come from as far away as Argentina and England, to as close to home as New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
After sharing their stories, the volunteers introduced a new game to the students. At the begninng, each student received one dollar. Then, they were told that they would have the option to purchase certain items, but once they purchased something they could not return it. The BlackRock volunteers then produced a series of sweet and salty treats to tempt the students with. They started with potato chips, and then two bags of chips for $1 when the first bag didn’t tempt anyone.
From there, they offered Starbursts, chocolates, holiday candy and more. Some students spent their dollars. Some saved them. After the volunteers made their last offers, they opened up the floor for discussion about why some students saved their money and some spent it.
The volunteers discussed the power of saving and the equally alluring power of temptation. They shared their own experiences with credit card scammers and pay day loans, in order to give concrete examples to the students. They discussed interest and investing, and one volunteer even told us how to become millionaires! (Hint: it involves saving).
We cherish the relationship we have with our partners over at BlackRock. Through their support, these arts residencies are made possible and, in turn, we are able to bring these volunteers into the classroom to teach our students something they normally wouldn’t have access to in school. Now, these students have a greater awareness of the dollars they spend everyday and how that can directly affect their futures.
A special thanks also goes out to Principal Emily Shu, Ms. Larrysse Brown and Mr. Daniel Burke, who let us take over their classes and work with their students!
Thank you BlackRock & BEA for giving voice!