Local business and school districts teaming up to offer students financial practice

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HOUGHTON - Teachers across the U.P. say it's sometimes difficult to provide students with real-life, financial experiences. One U.P. business is teaming up with school districts to make it a little easier.

It's called Banzai and it's helping teachers provide real-life financial experiences for their students. One of its recent sponsors is the Michigan Tech Employees Credit Union.

"In essence, it kind of turns into a free course that the teacher is able to offer without having to set-up themselves," says David Rautiola, President and CEO of the Michigan Tech Employees Federal Credit Union. "With a little bit of guidance from Banzai, they are able to offer some education, offer some real hands on learning to the youth and the kids seem to really like it."

The credit union is currently partnered with 10 school districts, offering Banzai- one of which is Houghton High School.

"For the students, we found that it was beneficial," said Jennifer Rubin, Business and technology teacher at Houghton High School. "Instead of just reading things in a textbook, they actually got to do things; they actually got to practice saving and budgeting type applications."

Students are first given a pre-test where their prior knowledge is put to the test. Once that's done, it's all about learning online along with a corresponding workbook.

"At the end, when we finished the modules, the rope or the book was essentially taken away from them and then they had to do it for real," said Rubin. "Their reaction was, 'Wow, this is more difficult than I thought it was going to be!'"

"We really feel that we've kind of exposed some of these kids to maybe think about things they haven't had to think about in the past," said Rautiola. "It really is a win-win for us, we're able to give back to the community and these kids are coming away with a better education."

To receive the program, teachers may either contact the credit union or Banzai.


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