HONOLULU-Local students are getting a free education in how to manage their money. Hickam Federal Credit Union has partnered with Banzai, a national award-winning financial literacy program, to make the curriculum available at schools in certain West Oahu communities completely free.

“Banzai is a web-based financial literacy program. Kids get their own accounts, and they work through assignments that are based on real life,” Morgan Vandagriff, co-founder of Banzai, said. “But because Hickam Federal Credit Union is sponsoring it, local schools get it for free. More than ever, it’s important that kids develop sound financial skills to prepare them for the real world, and Hickam Federal Credit Union realizes that and they’re doing something about it.”

Banzai is an interactive, online program supplemented by printed workbooks which aligns with state curriculum requirements for personal finance education. In 2010, the Institute for Financial Literacy awarded Banzai the Curriculum of the Year award. It has become the largest program of its kind, servicing more than 5,000 schools in all 50 states.

Students using the program are exposed to real-life scenarios where they learn to pay bills and balance a budget–but it’s not always easy. Students must learn to manage unexpected expenses such as parking tickets, interest charges and overdraft fees. The educational program also introduces students to auto loans, bank statements, entertainment costs, savings and more.

“Too often students get out of school and they just aren’t ready for the financial roller coasters life can give us,” Vandagriff said. “Banzai teaches students to navigate those twists and turns and come out on top.  We’re excited to work with Hickam Federal Credit Union to improve financial literacy in the community.”

Teachers interested in using the Banzai program can visit hickamfcu.teachbanzai.com or call 888-8-BANZAI.

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