Tara DeVore, advisement coordinator for Allegany College of Maryland’s Pathways for Success, wanted to approach their fall financial literacy programming in a fresh way. As a fall 2014 CashCourse Reimbursement program recipient, DeVore participated in a conference call where she heard about a school’s carnival-themed programming. This inspired her to approach fall 2015 differently.
“This year we are hosting a Cash Carnival as a new way to present information that had previously been done through workshops,” DeVore explains. “It will be open to all students on campus with several booths representing different departments and topics.”
The Cash Carnival’s booth will be manned by several different campus groups, indicating both strong cross-campus partnerships and student involvement.
DeVore says, “We have a booth run by our business and economics faculty, the financial aid office, and one managed by our Pathways for Success student peer mentors. The peer mentors will be promoting awareness of CashCourse and assisting students with signing up for the resource.”
Including students in program planning and implementation has been key in achieving success for Allegany’s financial literacy efforts.
“My advice is to try to get other students involved. Students are more receptive to their peers, which is why we started the SSS peer mentor program. They might assume I’m just being paid to say things, but when another student starts talking about money management, they get interested,” DeVore says.
Even beyond cross-campus partnerships, DeVore has invited community partners to the Cash Carnival, giving students the chance to meet with financial leaders outside of the school.
“We are also bringing in several community organizations to demonstrate on certain topics. We have representatives from a bank presenting about smart investments and savings. Two credit unions will be participating and focusing on debt and money emergencies respectively,” DeVore explains.
Including community leaders provides more than just subject matter experts to the experience.
Devore says, “Our hope is that by bringing in outside vendors, we are helping students make connections to resources within the community that can assist with future questions about money management.”
Allegany College of Maryland was also selected as a fall 2015 CashCourse Reimbursement Program recipient. Funding provided will go to incentives to drive students to interact with the Cash Carnival booths.
“Students will start with a signature card with three blocks. They must attend at least three booths and take part in an activity or a meaningful conversation to receive a signature. If they get three signatures, they will be entered in a raffle for a $50 gift card and will be able to get popcorn and cotton candy,” DeVore explains.
Incentives are a great way to get students to participate in financial literacy events. With competing events on campus, it is necessary to set your program apart.
“I would suggest having a hook. Once students are involved with financial literacy, they really do participate and learn a lot. However, they need that incentive, like food or giveaways, to get them started,” DeVore explains. “We would not be able to do this event without the CashCourse Reimbursement Program funding. We needed the theme and giveaways to get students excited and interested.”