What did you do for your Gold Award project?
My project addressed financial literacy education in schools. As I was preparing to buy a car, and beginning to look at tuition costs and student loans for college, I realized that I didn’t really know much about financial literacy. The current financial literacy curriculum that is taught in public schools in Colorado is limited and woven into other subjects, not giving the students the connection financial literacy has to their life outside of school. Students leaving high school are dealing with bigger amounts of money, no matter if they go to college or not. They’re buying cars, renting apartments, dealing with student loans, and budgets. My goal was to make financial literacy more easily accessed by students by requiring a class in Jefferson County School District High Schools, so the students would directly learn the financial concepts and tools they would need post high school. I began by writing a unit that was implemented in my own high school’s Family Consumer Science class. I then proposed to the Jefferson County School Board for a required Financial Literacy class. I also met with state legislators to discuss how we can work together to improve financial literacy guidelines from a legislative direction.
How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?
In my high school Family Consumer Sciences class, I researched and created a unit on Financial Safety Online. That unit consisted of power points, activities, videos, and discussions. I assigned both pre and post unit quizzes to the students to see their improvement through direct teaching of these financial concepts. Their average class grade increased from a “C” to an “A” demonstrating that direct education of financial literacy topics is effective. Feedback both on Down with Dough Facebook page as well as numerous comments after my 9News segment show that this topic is relatable to many people and they were all encouraging me on this subject. Many aspects of my Gold project are still in process such as the legislative work and what the School Board Curriculum Department will develop over time. I was very happy to get people to see the gap in this important curriculum piece and be willing to look more deeply into it, and take appropriate action.
How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?
My unit will be sustained by the Family Consumer Sciences teacher at Ralston Valley who has signed a letter of commitment to continue to teach the unit I created. The Jefferson County School Board is looking for ways to fill the gap between the current curriculums by connecting it to the students’ lives and experiences. I am also working with a Colorado State Legislator, Lang Sias, who is looking to assist with legislative options to provide guidelines for state educators to follow in teaching financial literacy. My brother and I are also starting a non-profit (Down with Dough) to keep the discussion on my issue going, as well as educate students and young adults on financial literacy subjects. We will also work with people, like Representative Sias, to develop a financial literacy event to be held at the Capitol and work to mend the issue in the future. Down With Dough will be effective January 1, 2017.
Locally interest was generated (and maintained) by news media including an article in my school newspaper, my local paper, a segment on 9News and my Facebook page “Down with Dough.”
What is your project’s global and/or national connection?
Financial literacy affects everyone worldwide. I researched how Colorado compares to other states and how the United States compares to other countries as far as the education of Financial Literacy topics. Nationally, Champlain College’s Center of Financial Literacy graded each state based on their financial literacy requirements. Colorado earned a ‘C’, as financial topics are woven into curriculums, but it isn’t taught directly. Globally, the Program for International Student Assessment submitted a test to 15-year-olds from different countries to test their financial education. The U.S. scores in the bottom 50% of other countries with countries such as China, Australia and the Czech Republic scoring higher.
What did you learn about yourself?
There are several key things that I learned about myself. First, is that I can achieve my goals despite road blocks as long as I don’t give up. It is okay to have to rethink problems and brainstorm alternative solutions. Sticking with something can have huge payoffs in the end. I also learned key things such as prioritizing, organization, and business communications. Probably the most important thing I learned is how to make sure the people who are helping me (my volunteers) know how much I appreciate them and the work they do for me. It is easy to go along and get busy with timelines and projects and assume that people know that you appreciate them but the reality is that you have to make sure you tell them how appreciative you are. If they don’t know that you are grateful for their help, they won’t want to continue helping you. It is very important to make sure they know you need them.
How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?
Earning the Gold Award has shown me I can do anything if I persevere. I will take the memories and skills that I have learned and apply them to everything I will do going forward. I am a stronger, more confident person because of this project.
Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
The Gold Award to me is the ultimate culmination of everything that I’ve learned over the 12 years that I’ve been a Girl Scout. Service to others, courage to take risks, and a safe and supportive environment to try new things. It is the highest award and is a great way to end my career as a Girl Scout.
**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email firstname.lastname@example.org