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Corona students learn finance from expert

A partnership between Merrill Lynch and P.S. 143, the Louis Armstrong School, in Corona has given some fifth graders a head start on learning about financial literacy.
The partnership between Kevin McGovern, the Director of Infrastructure Solutions at Merrill Lynch, and P.S. 143 Principal Sheila Gorsky was created by PENCIL, which coordinates partnerships between members of the business community and city public schools.
McGovern’s work with the school began with a visit and presentation of what Merrill Lynch does. Wanting to get involved further, he suggested conducting a financial literacy workshop. The school selected 13 fifth graders with strong math skills to participate in the five-session series, which concluded on Friday, March 14.
“I thought it was great and I was really proud of myself for getting picked,” student Michelle Castillo said of the workshop.
Some of the concepts the students learned included how to save money, interest rates and how to budget time and money. The material was based on a national program Merrill Lynch has called “Investing Pays Off.”
“To me, this is more meaningful than what we do (in the office),” McGovern said. “What we do here actually makes a difference in someone’s life.”
PENCIL President Michael Haberman said that there are many partnerships that involve financial literacy, both with students and with parents.
“I think financial literacy is just a huge issue in every person’s life,” Haberman said. “I think that the other goal beyond that is it’s a new and different way to engage students.”
Castillo said that she has already been sharing her newly acquired financial knowledge with her mother. She said one of the most important things she learned was how to get organized.
Along with learning more about financial literacy, P.S. 143 Assistant Principal Vikki Catalano said that the workshop has gotten the students to think about college and potential careers.
“This is something that they’re going to remember,” Catalano said. “The partnership is just amazing. It’s something that really took off.”
PENCIL is currently involved with 110 schools in Queens and has a waiting list of schools looking for business partners. To find out more about getting involved, you may visit www.pencil.org or call 212-524-2380.

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