LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston High School (LHS) students created a Teaching Investment and Money Management Initiative (TIMMI) club, which recently completed a four-part, comprehensive money-management education program at Heritage Middle School (HMS). The student organization, whose mission is to avoid the financial crises of the past and better today’s problems in consumerism and indebtedness, shared a central curriculum for financial literacy with 33 interested HMS students.
Through interactive and inclusive education, the student-led advocacy organization focused on the general foundations of money management and its significance in a “boot camp”-formatted financial literacy program between Feb. 24 and March 17. According to TIMMI co-founder and LHS junior Adam Chang, student feedback showed a tremendous amount of learning and understanding of the TIMMI at the completion of the four-week curriculum.
“We looked at scores on the pre and post assessments and a lot of the kids got a lot of the questions right, which is really impressive,” Chang said. “The kids are generally really excited. [Robert] Grosso felt that it worked really well and he was really happy that the kids enjoyed it.”
The series of lessons covered themes like budgeting, credit, debt and investing. According to TIMMI members, a large part of the program’s success stems from how interactive and inclusive the curriculum is. Chang said it's always better to teach kids these types of lessons at a younger age when they are still interested in the learning process. Through games, demonstrations and Kahoots (a virtual, mobile classroom that answers multiple-choice questions in real time), the middle school students learned skills they may not have been able to otherwise.
According to HMS Assistant Principal Robert Grosso, the opportunity to learn about investment and money management tips from high school students was an experience that the middle school students genuinely enjoyed. Chang and Grosso also agreed that it was just as positive of an experience for the high school students as it was for the HMS kids.
“Through this experience [the high school students] definitely learned about money management,” Change. “But then they also had a fantastic experience getting to work with kids and we also got to do other things as a club to support this.”
Since its inception in October 2014, TIMMI club members have been holding various fundraisers that Chang said were fun for not only those interested in the financial aspects but also in the education and community service aspects of the club. Chang said the TIMMI team, which is made up of mostly juniors, diversified their interests through this experience just in time to start thinking about college.
For Chang, who founded the club with fellow junior Justin Patel, his experience managing the club has expanded his interests in education and public policy as well as opened his eyes to the world of business owning and development. He said that despite popular belief, student teachers Adam Chang, Justin Patel, Jay Bhanushali, Christina Cuppari, Kuran Malhotra, and Paul Yang joined the club for reasons that go beyond business and finance.
“We’re looking to get as many people involved in LHS as possible,” Change said. “I think one of our challenges is that at the surface it seems like a very business-and financial-oriented club, but going down deeper it’s so much more. Like talking to schools, working with kids — that’s all stuff that can appeal to a lot of people.”
Chang said one of the two major goals moving forward with TIMMI is to teach the four-part curriculum to other Livingston schools as well as charter-and low-income schools throughout Northern New Jersey. The other is to encourage other high schools to start a club of their own by sharing fundraising and member-recruitment info with them.
“The middle school-ers, from what I found in their feedback, is that it was really important for their future and that we showed them a bunch of stuff about how so many people in the United States are not financially literate,” Change said. “They had a lot of fun.”
TIMMI members expressed their gratitude to the many faculty members who helped implement the program, with a special shout out to LHS math teacher and TIMMI advisor Michelle Winter. They also thanked Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza for their generosity in providing what Chang insisted must have been hundreds of dollars-worth of pizza during the four sessions.
“[Mrs. Winter] is incredibly dedicated so huge shout to her,” Change said. “Every has been really fantastic. It’s really been amazing doing this with all of these people and especially Mrs. Winter. She’s been there every step of the way.”
For more information on the Teaching Investment and Money Management Initiative, as well as details on joining TIMMI in sharing financial literacy, visit http://timm-i.org.