Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Emma Albertoni of Arvada was honored in the nation’s capital on May 7, 2017 for her outstanding volunteer service during the 22nd annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. In February, the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards named Emma one of Colorado’s top youth volunteers of 2017 and awarded her the title of State Honoree. Emma – along with more than 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – received a $1,000 award and personal congratulations from Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Emma also received an engraved silver medallion, which Girl Scouts of Colorado President and CEO Stephanie A. Foote presented to her at last month’s Highest Awards Celebration in Loveland.
Emma, a senior at Ralston Valley Senior High School, earned the highest honor in Girl Scouting for her work to improve financial literacy education and ensure students across Colorado are prepared to make sound financial decisions when they graduate. The idea hit Emma one summer when she was working at a summer job, shopping for her first car, and looking at college tuitions. “I was dealing with larger sums of money than ever before and I realized I didn’t know anything about using it wisely,” she said. After discussing with her parents such foreign concepts as credit scores, loans, budgeting and taxes, Emma decided she and her peers needed help.
She began by researching financial education in Colorado and found large gaps. For example, “In Algebra II, students are taught how to calculate interest; what they are not taught is how interest could affect their credit scores or how to figure interest into the cost of a purchase,” she said. Emma discussed her concerns with her principal, who put her in touch with the teacher of her school’s Family Consumer Science class. Emma offered to develop a unit on financial safety online for the class, and then created presentations, videos, discussion outlines, and quizzes to use in the classroom. Next, she persuaded the local school board to strengthen the teaching of financial literacy throughout the district, and she is now working with state legislators on guidelines for educators across the state to follow in teaching students about financial topics.
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2017 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network. More than 31,000 middle level and high school students nationwide participated in this year’s program.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service – and, in so doing, inspire others to volunteer, too. In the past 22 years, the program has honored more than 120,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.