DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation – Interview with Robert M. Church

Robert M. Church, M.Ed, BS, the Executive Director of the DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the project. Here is what he told us.

  • Could you tell us about how the DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation got started and your involvement in it? Why have you decided to launch the project?

One reason I joined DMFLF was because of my prior experiences and involvement in running all-volunteer organizations. The ability to build and manage volunteers was a skill set that was needed at the time, but the main reason I joined was because the mission and vision of the organization struck a chord with my life experiences.

The organization’s vision is to provide quality personal finance programs to schools and communities at no cost.

Growing up in a single-parent family on public assistance and, for a time homeless, the issues, challenges and importance of managing personal finances was something that I became acutely aware of.

  • What is the primary mission of the project? What are your recently accomplished and upcoming goals?

DMFLF’s mission is to prepare today’s students and the greater community for a lifetime of financial responsibility. To date, our accomplishments are remarkable!

  • We have developed the FitKit High School and Middle School Personal Finance Editions.
  • The FitKit High School Edition is available in print and an electronic teacher presentation platform (TPP) version.
  • We have begun the development of Express Community and targeted programs.
  • FitKit Personal Finance programs have gained recognition as "Innovative Educational Programs" in PA and are gaining recognition in schools in states across the country.
  • FitKit Programs often become the most popular in districts where they are offered.
  • FitKit program use is expanding to more schools across the nation.

Our immediate goal is to raise the $10 million needed to meet growing demands and distribute curriculum to 100,000 in the next 12-18 months and 1 million students in the next 3-4 years.

DoughMain
  • Can you remember one main achievement you are most proud of?

The achievement I am most proud of is the development of the FitKit High School Edition and the High School Teacher Presentation Platform.

When we initially began piloting our personal finance courses, we visited many classrooms and gathered feedback on the curriculum from the educators and students. Students spoke about the quality of the curriculum and the impact they felt it would have on their lives and futures. I found this to be particularly touching and rewarding.

Another achievement that I am as equally proud of is that all that we have accomplished has been achieved as an all-volunteer organization with young college-aged volunteers who commit their time and efforts more than 25,000 hours to date to making DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation and the FitKit programs successful.

  • What resources do you use to teach students personal finances?

We develop our own curriculum with a master team of educators from various disciplines who teach personal finance daily in schools across the nation. These educators ensure that the necessary school requirements are met, the lesson plans for educators are easy to follow, and the course material are both understandable and relatable to the students.

Most of the course lessons were built with a sound pedagogic method to be taught in schools through a “from the classroom out” approach. This causes our reach to extend to the homes and families of the students being taught.

  • Tell us everything we need to know about the FitKit financial literacy program.
FitKit financial literacy program

The FitKit Youth Financial Literacy Program is a 60-hour, student oriented, comprehensive school curriculum that includes teacher guides, student books, peer-to-peer videos, multimedia and interactive features that make the material engaging. The FitKit has been vastly successful as evidenced by the fact that financial literacy scores increased by an average 40% for students that participate in the FitKit Program. We currently serve many schools in PA, NJ, DC, SC, FLA, WY and growing with ethnically and socio-economically diverse student populations.

The FitKit is interactive and covers topics on the entire continuum of personal finance. These include:

  • Income and careers
  • Pay, Benefits and Deductions
  • Taxes
  • Budgeting
  • Banks and Banking
  • Savings and Investments
  • Credit
  • Insurance

To our knowledge, the FitKit is the only financial literacy curriculum that meets the Core Curriculum Content Standards for 21st-Century Life and Careers, the National Standards for Financial Literacy by the Council for Economic Education, and National Common Core.

The FitKit is also the only program to focus solely on personal finance skills rather than more general financial literacy skills. Furthermore, the program also incorporates hands-on assignments to take discussions home to parents to have the entire family involved in the education process.

The program also includes pre- and post-assessments to gauge the effectiveness of the program and its outcomes.

  • Who is developing the program materials?

As previously mentioned, we have a master team of educators from various disciplines who teach personal finance who create the specific course materials for our programs.

We also have a team of college-aged volunteers and adult volunteers who are dedicated to ensuring the success of the foundation through organizing events, spreading awareness, outreach to potential supporters, and many other functions.

  • What are the components of an engaging interactive teaching program?

The key aspect of our success is that content must be relevant and relatable to where students are. FitKit Programs meet students where they are in life. They reflect their communities, wants, needs, desires, mindsets, and challenges.

Our program includes animated videos of diverse characters that both look and act like the students watching the videos. Furthermore, we also include peer-to-peer videos. These include youth speaking directly to youth about important personal finance topics. These elements make the course more intriguing because the students who can relate to these videos.

We ensure the program is reflective of the students’ lives, families, goals, and challenges in life.

  • Share some of the challenges you face as a financial educator.

The greatest challenge our organization faces is the issue of funding. Banks and financial institutions often support “Financial Literacy” education under CRA but see it as a marketing opportunity. Additionally, though many understand Financial Literacy is an important issue that may lead to homelessness and lost opportunities, it is often seen as once removed from more threatening concerns.

If you have any questions about the DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation, contact Robert Church at [email protected]

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