Money Matters to Students

Maya Charlton, Staff Writer

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Lawrence Jia ('19) is the enthusiastic founder of the new program Money Matters to Students.

Anisha Sharma
Lawrence Jia (’19) is the enthusiastic founder of the new program Money Matters to Students.

Larry Jia (’19) has recently started a new community service program named Money Matters to Students.  Jia noted the necessity of a more comprehensive financial education program while attending Chesterfield Public Schools.  During middle school, Jia noticed, “Some of my friends, who came from lower-income families and were on reduced lunches, still had expensive things like the newest iPhones.”  He was struck by the poor financial decisions of his friends’ families.  Now, as a freshman, Jia seeks to create more informed consumers, better investors, and wiser savers through Money Matters to Students.

This program seeks to educate students from lower-income families on basic personal finance and economic strategies.  Although the Virginia Department of Education requires one course in Economics and Personal Finance to obtain a high school diploma since 2011, there is still a lack of economic education in elementary and middle schools.

Jia believes that money management is one of the most practical and useful skills taught in school. By providing introductory financial education to younger students, he hopes to lay a foundation for good monetary decision-making.

Jia is partnering with the Virginia Council on Economic Education’s Center at VCU to form curricula that will educate and also engage younger students.  Although personal finance classes are rarely considered to be exciting, Jia hopes to capture the attention of the students with hands-on activities and simulations.  Jia and the VCEE are tailoring each lesson plan to interest students of different grade levels.  Jia explains, “Obviously we aren’t going to make the lessons for the kindergartners on anything really complicated. We’re going to start simple.  For younger kids, we’ll promote good decision-making and go over the basics, like the definition of money or opportunity cost.  But, by the time they are in eighth grade, we want them to be able to invest wisely and have a good understanding of macro and microeconomics.”

Representatives from the VCEE will train Money Matters to Students volunteers during lunch at Maggie Walker, and these volunteers will in turn teach the concepts to elementary and middle school students.  The Richmond City Public School students will attend optional weekly after-school sessions led by Jia’s volunteers.  Jia thinks that although his program is not compulsory, attendance will be quite strong, since Money Matters to Students is an educational and free alternative to day-care, teachers will promote the program in class, and the lessons will be interactive and interesting for the students.

Jia plans to measure the development of the students’ financial skills through regular assessments, which will not impact their official grades in school.  If he sees a marked improvement, he will expand to more schools in the Richmond area.  Jia says that his main goal is to “ impact the lives of the students by improving their financial literacy.”  But, his more tangible goal for this year is to expand the program to three to five additional schools in Richmond City.  By the end of his sophomore year, he hopes to expand his program into the Greater Richmond Area, most likely Chesterfield and Henrico County.

Jia’s program is just getting started, and he is always open to new volunteers and ideas.  Volunteering with Money Matters to Students, which meets on Mondays during lunch in room 105, can count towards community service hours.  Message Lawrence Jia on Facebook or email him at [email protected] for more information.


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