Volunteering Can Promote Lifetime Financial Education
By Aimee DeCamillo
I volunteer quarterly with a local sixth grade class. My favorite lesson is teaching about the power of compounding interest. I give the children an option: You can have a million dollars today or a penny that doubles every day for 31 days. Which would you choose?
Of course, most of the children jump at the chance for a million dollars. Who wouldn’t? But when you show them the math, they realize how those pennies add up and grow over time. In the end, the near $11 million you would have after 31 days makes the million-dollar offer look like spare change.
As a financial services company, we have a responsibility to share our time and knowledge beyond our client base. Imagine the impact in our communities if each person in financial services could volunteer just one hour of their time to classroom education. We could reach more than 26 million students in grades three through nine in nearly 100,000 public elementary and secondary schools.
Financial education has become a cornerstone of our commitment to communities. We research financial behavior, create programs and consumer-friendly financial content for audiences of all ages, and support financial education programs in schools. And, through volunteering, T. Rowe Price associates share their passion for financial education in our communities. We partnered with Scholastic to offer a financial education volunteer toolkit to help parents spend time in their kids’ classrooms sharing financial concepts.
T. Rowe Price also researches the money habits of both children and adults, most notably through the annual Parents, Kids & Money survey, now in its eighth year. The survey examines financial knowledge, behavior, and attitudes of children ages 8 to 14 and their parents. This research informs our Money Confident Kids® program, which reached more than 1.5 million people in 2015. The program focuses on three key areas: learning good financial habits early, having weekly talks about money matters, and improving educator confidence.
We believe children should start learning about finances around age eight or even earlier as they begin to notice that buying things is part of life. Money Confident Kids provides games and resources to encourage families and educators to discuss money matters and offers conversation starters around money habits—like a trip to the grocery store or the ATM—so parents can easily talk to their children about money.
Our 2015 survey also told us that parents would like to see financial education featured more prominently in classrooms. Seventy-two percent of parents said they have some reluctance to discuss money matters with their kids, and 91% agree that it is appropriate for children to learn about financial matters in school. Three-quarters of parents think there should be a personal finance requirement to graduate from high school.
A few days after my last school volunteering session, my husband ran into a parent at the bus stop. After hearing me speak, she said, her daughter now wants to work in financial services. Engaging students through volunteering can have a compounding effect and generate returns for everyone long after our time in the classroom has passed.
Aimee DeCamillo is head of Retirement Plan Services for T. Rowe Price.
 Classroom figures from National Center For Education and Statistics.
 Figure reflects total reach of T. Rowe Price financial education websites, online games, apps, exhibits, programs with Junior Achievement and Scholastic and sponsored events for calendar year 2015.
 2015 T. Rowe Price Parents, Kids & Money survey