Think back to your time as a kid, teenager, and/or young adult. How much financial literacy knowledge was imparted to you? Potentially, it wasn’t much. Often, unless your family or close friends had that knowledge, the opportunities you had to learn about the financial world were limited. And even when you did get that information, it could vary wildly based on the experiences and opinions of the individual imparting that knowledge to you. Which is great. Personal experience is a fantastic teacher. But it does mean many people have gaps in their knowledge, through no fault of their own, and these gaps often revolve around saving, especially long-term saving, and general financial acumen.

Financial literacy is important, and it’s especially important for Gavin Chinn, one of our Financial Advisors on our Wealth Management team. This is why Gavin is so involved with the Teach Children to Save Day and why he is the 2018 Q1 Community Commitment Award Recipient.

Gavin found Teach Children To Save Day years ago, before he started working at Verity. A former employer provided employees a kit and Gavin, and others, would go out to schools and teach elementary school kids about saving and what it means to save for the future. It was something that Gavin connected strongly with. When he did move to Verity, no such program existed, and Gavin was focused on settling and growing into his new role, which meant leaving the program behind.

Gavin loves kids. He loves education. In fact, he believes that education is the solution to many of the problems in the world. To him, this includes all areas of education. But, as Gavin works in the financial industry, he focuses on helping educate people around financial services. As he settled into Verity and became more comfortable in his role, he looked to help educate children in some capacity. With Verity’s shift to being much more volunteer focused, Gavin decided it was time to re-involve himself with Teach Children To Save Day.

Unlike at his last employer, Gavin built the Teach Children to Save program here at Verity from scratch. Using children’s books, from The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble With Money and Little Nino’s Pizzeria to Moustropolis and Beatrice’s Goat, Gavin gathered resources from both the Federal Reserve Education website and the ABA Foundation website, both of which focus on financial literacy education. The books in particular were a welcome find, as it uses books children may already be familiar with to help teach them the importance of money and financial literacy.

Four years ago, when he first rolled out Verity’s participation, he partnered with St. John’s School in Greenwood, where he had a connection through a friend. The first year, the program went well and the feedback was good, but Gavin felt like he could help even more youth by partnering with underserved communities and the public schools located there.

This proved the most difficult part, however, as Gavin found that connecting with schools and developing partnerships around financial literacy is difficult. This process of connecting with schools and teachers forced Gavin to take the following year after presenting at St. John’s off as he searched for connections with schools that were within two miles of our branches so as to make the largest impact on our local communities as possible. Finally, he realized the Northgate branch worked closely with Northgate Elementary School, which is just up the street from Verity’s headquarters. This was the connection Gavin needed, and he jumped at the chance to strengthen this community relationship the branch developed.

Two years ago when Gavin held his first Teach Children to Save Day at Northgate Elementary, six teachers agreed to have Gavin and his awesome team of Credit Union Volunteer Teachers come into the school and talk to kids about the importance of money. It was a reasonable turnout, but when you’re Gavin and you want to impact as many children as possible, six classrooms aren’t enough. Not nearly enough.

This year, however, the response from the kids and teachers was so high that when Gavin reached out to schedule Teach Children to Save Day, 12 teachers reached out and said they’d like to have someone come in, doubling the number of classrooms and teachers that wanted him to come in and talk to kids about financial literacy. Awesome! If only all of our volunteer endeavors created this much passion and excitement, we’d all be feeling about as awesome and amazing as Gavin feels.

The Teach Children To Save Day activities and engagement were incredible. So many Verity Volunteers went out to help students learn, and Gavin was in the thick of it. We now have books and resources so anyone could pick them up and work through the lesson plans on Teach Children To Save Day in 2019.

But Gavin being Gavin, this isn’t where he stopped. No, Gavin has plans for the future (which shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Gavin’s job of financial advising and examining the future). He wants to continue to build out his library and set of resources. He also wants to encourage employees to take these resources and work at other schools in the Greater Seattle Area and beyond. He wants to encourage employees to use these resources in their kids’ schools, their nieces and nephews’ schools, in the schools nearest employee houses. He’d also like to see these resources being used on non-Teach Children To Save Days, because we shouldn’t just teach children about financial literacy one day a year. Instead, we should do this as often as possible so as to continue reinforcing good behaviors throughout.

Through all of this, Gavin continues to remember back to advice he received in school which has helped guide him through various situations he’s encountered in life. Without these teachers or the advice they provided, resonating through the decades to 2018, Gavin might not be where he is today. Therefore, he has high hopes that he can impart one or two nuggets of knowledge that a child will remember down the road to help them make informed financial decisions.

Of course, Gavin’s ultimate wish is that financial literacy is taught in all schools throughout the country in multiple grade levels to ensure a consistent, constant interaction with the financial world. While that is a long ways off, if not a utopic dream, Teach Children To Save Day is a start, as is the on-demand resource center he is currently working to create at Verity. If this is something you’re interested in, don’t hesitate to reach out to Gavin and ask how you can help and participate in 2019’s Teach Children To Save Day.

Thank you, Gavin, for finding an area where children don’t always experience a consistent message around financial literacy. Keep doing what you’re doing. You are definitely making an impact.

Matthew Kingston

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