Fredonia student places second in money skills competition

BUFFALO — Trevor Kedge, a student at Hamburg High School, bested a record number of participants to win this year’s MoneySKILL Mania financial literacy competition, sponsored by the University at Buffalo School of Management and M&T Bank in high schools across Western New York.

More than 1,315 local students registered to participate in the 12th annual MoneySKILL Mania competition, which tests their proficiency with basic money management concepts, including budgeting, income, credit and insurance.

As the highest scoring student, Kedge won an Apple iPad. Michael Persch of Fredonia High School and Mora Sullivan of Cleveland Hill High School took second and third place, respectively, and each received a $250 prize. The top three students’ teachers — including Fredonia’s Laura DePue — also won a $100 Amazon gift card.

This year, teachers from 25 public, private and charter schools, as well as four career and technical centers, hosted MoneySKILL Mania in their classrooms, representing six local counties. The competition wrapped up in April, coinciding with National Financial Literacy Month, and the top-scoring student from each participating school won a $50 Amazon gift card.

“We believe it’s critically important for young people to understand financial literacy and financial health,” says Jim Jarosz, group vice president for retail banking at M&T Bank. “By encouraging good money management skills at a young age, we’re helping local youth develop skills that will make them better prepared for the financial challenges they will face as adults.”

MoneySKILL Mania assesses concepts that students learn through the free, online MoneySKILL program developed by Lewis Mandell, professor emeritus of finance in the UB School of Management, in collaboration with the American Financial Services Association (AFSA) Education Foundation.

Nationally, MoneySKILL continues to increase its reach, approaching 1 million users from all 50 states and more than 40 countries. The program offers two versions: a middle school edition with 12 learning modules, and a high school/young adult version with 37 modules that cover such areas as saving, investing, vehicle financing and renting versus owning property. (Demos are available at moneyskill.org.)

Meanwhile, in Western New York, the UB School of Management and M&T Bank have partnered since 2006 to provide outreach and teacher training, and host the MoneySKILL Mania competition. Over the past 13 years, more than 25,000 local teenagers have improved their financial literacy through MoneySKILL. In addition, the School of Management’s undergraduate honors students team up annually on projects to spread awareness for the program and the importance of financial literacy.

“When I worked in banking before joining UB, I saw how customers’ understanding of personal finance fundamentals affected their ability to effectively manage their money,” says Cynthia Shore, senior assistant dean and director of alumni engagement and external relations in the UB School of Management. “Thanks to MoneySKILL and the support of M&T Bank, high school students across our region are better prepared for the many financial decisions they’ll make after graduation and long into the future.”