A rock band teaches financial literacy

TAMMY REAL-MCKEIGHAN Managing Editor

It’s not every day you ask a professor for an autograph.

But it’s not every day that your teacher is a rock musician performing at your school.

On Monday, students at Cedar Bluffs Public Schools heard songs by rock band GOODING.

The group then talked to the students about things like saving for the future and budgeting.

Students in grades 6 through 12 participated in the program, offered by the Nebraska Council on Economic Education (NCEE), which coordinated and secured sponsors for the group’s visit.

NCEE partners with nonprofit Funding for the Future and nationally recognized musicians to bring the important message of financial literacy to students.

At events like Cedar Bluffs, GOODING discusses topics like the importance of saving and budgeting, how compound interest works, why they should stay away from payday lenders, and how freedom finance helps them achieve their dreams.

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NCEE President Jennifer Davidson explained how musicians interact with students.

“The rock concert catches the students off guard and they pay attention,” Davison said in a press release. “Once musicians establish their cool factor, financial literacy medicine breaks down and students are open to the message.”

Brian Dunker, a business teacher at Cedar Bluffs High School, spoke of the positive reaction from students.

“The kids were thrilled with the energetic performance,” Dunker said.

GOODING played about five songs before sharing the financial literacy concepts.

Group members also answered questions from students.

“They answered student questions about student loans,” Dunker said. “I think kids are aware that there’s a conversation going on in the United States and I think they’re interested in knowing what their options are and how it all impacts their future.”

Dunker thinks it’s good for students to think about it even when they’re in sixth or seventh grade.

“The economy and personal finance affect our daily lives and it’s important to have conversations with kids so their money doesn’t control them, they control their money,” Dunker said.

Dunker said the group talks about having the right mindset to save and invest and that students need to think about their future.

“They did a very good job. It was really engaging for the kids,” he said.

Cedar Bluffs offers a personal finance course for students to take.

“It’s great to be able to back up what we’re doing in the classroom with people who also have the same message and real-life examples,” Dunker said.

Music artists openly discuss the financial misconceptions that plagued them early in their careers.

“Some people think rock and roll and financial literacy don’t have much to do, but they do,” singer-songwriter Gooding said in a prepared statement. “It wasn’t until I saw what we were doing as a company that it started to give us the freedom to do whatever we wanted.”

Gooding talked about their progress.

“We’re on our own music label now, so we play what we want to play and tour how we want,” Gooding said. “We couldn’t do it if we didn’t invest in ourselves.”

Dunker believes it is important for students to have the opportunity to start their future with a solid foundation in handling and managing money.

He said the fact that Cedar Bluffs has long had a mandatory personal finance course speaks to his school board and administration’s understanding that it’s important.

Dunker said the concert was made possible at no cost to the school district through NCEE and area banks.

Area banks that provided donations for Monday’s presentation were: Union Bank & Trust in Wahoo; First State Bank and Trust Company in Fremont; and Cornerstone Bank, which has a branch in Malmö.

Since 2015, NCEE has partnered with Funding for the Future, which works to teach financial literacy. More than 15,500 students from 32 Nebraska schools have received the financial literacy message.

GOODING’s music has been featured in “CSI”, “Criminal Minds”, “The Daily Show”, “Iron Man 2”, “Walk the Line”, and “Suicide Squad”. Inspired by their work with Quincy Jones on Operation HOPE, they helped create Funding the Future.

Dunker noted that Monday’s event was a hit with students.

“The kids really enjoyed it and then they asked the band for autographs,” Dunker said.

And that doesn’t happen every day at school.

Geraldine L. Melton