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McDougle Middle Students Rock Out with Financial Literacy

How many adults among us would have appreciated the opportunity to learn basic financial literacy by attending a rock concert? The seventh grade students at McDougle Middle School (MMS) started their day on April 3 by gathering in the gym to hear Carter Hulsey, a country-rock musician, sing songs about debit versus credit, compound interest and other subjects rarely on the radar of pre-teens. With slides illuminated behind the musicians with terms like “fixed variable” and “credit score,” the Funding the Future concert gave these Mustangs a painless morning wake-up to personal finance.

"I thought it was pretty cool,” said student Crystal Soong. “It was way more fun than having a normal talk about money. I like the fun experience it offered. I thought the information was useful; I learned a lot of new things."

Financial literacy is embedded in essential standards for social studies in seventh and eighth grade in North Carolina. MMS sixth grade students participated in a day long Career Day on April 10, and eighth grade students experienced the annual “Reality of Money” event earlier this year. Assistant Principal Chassity Coston said, “We want to ensure that all students have access to similar life skills and information throughout the year in various avenues.”

MMS Hulsey concert After the band finished its set, Hulsey delivered a brief motivational speech, and then held a Q&A session. Coston said, “The students had impressive questions. The students were given take-home quiz cards, and teachers and parents were given post-event resources to follow-up on the financial literacy topics covered.”

John Cowan, information technology facilitator at MMS, said, "The band was very professional and talented, and engaging for students. When the band stopped playing, I was skeptical about how they would engage students. But they actually brought up great points and gave some valuable information. It was very relatable to students, utilizing big name celebs like Marshawn Lynch and Beyonce. It was nice that they took time to talk individually to students about their interests in music and money."

Funding the Future is a national organization with the lofty mission to teach financial literacy to every student in America. Notes their website, “Using the power of a live performance and their own personal stories, our artists inspire young people, showing them how smart financial decisions will help them see their own dreams as possibilities.” Hulsey is one of four Funding the Future headlining acts touring the country, bringing concerts to schools and community events. His sound is polished and catchy, with a professionalism honed by sharing the stage with performers like Third Eye Blind, Garth Brooks and Blues Traveler, only now his message is all about learning how to handle money and build healthy credit scores.

Student Lena Minozzi said, “I liked the music a lot - it was really fun. The ending part was informative; I didn't know all of that stuff about money, and I am going to use all of that information later."

Principal Robert Bales said, “It was a great sneak peek into skills that students need in order to be successful, and it's best to have students talk about it now, than have to learn about it later on in life."

MMS Hulsey poster Funding the Future works with donors and local contributors to provide the event at no cost to middle and high schools, with a requirement that 250-300 students attend each concert.

April is Financial Literacy Month. Learn more about North Carolina Public Schools initiatives and resources on the subject.