Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore, joined by Comptroller of Maryland Peter Franchot, gathered the Mid-Shore’s leaders on the Chesapeake College campus for a Financial Literacy Summit on April 21 to address the critical need of financial education for the region’s citizens.
The audience of nearly 100 invited guests included elected officials, financial leaders, educators, community leaders and businesspeople. Presented in recognition of Financial Awareness Month in April, the summit featured speakers on a variety of financial education topics.
“This summit was designed to show our leaders that young people need to learn early that there is an impact of every financial decision. We see young people making poor financial choices that will follow them for the rest of their lives. It’s our mission to show them the negative impact and give them the tools to make more informed financial decisions,” said President Jayme Hayes, who heads the Junior Achievement branch that covers six counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
The mission of Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore is to provide the region with a sound foundation in financial literacy.
“The work Junior Achievement does at the local and national levels is vitally important in preparing the next generation of Maryland’s entrepreneurs and business leaders,” Comptroller Franchot added. “It is incumbent upon us – parents, teachers, advocates, non-profit and community leaders, and elected officials – to make sure that we are providing the foundation for financial security and long-term success for our kids.”
Junior Achievement Board Member Geoff Oxnam of American Microgrid Solutions opened the panel discussions with a bleak portrait.
“We have seen the devastating impact of the financial crisis on our kids. Financial literacy – or the lack there of -- was certainly one of the key drivers,” Mr. Oxnam said. “The Baby Boomer Generation drove themselves into a hole, and the Gen Xers followed them right into the same hole. With the Millennial generation and those younger, we have a chance to turn the tide and provide a foundation of financial literacy.”
Panelists from across the spectrum supported the message of providing financial education to youth in the hopes that they will have better financial health than their parents. The panel participants included: Eric Brotman of Brotman Financial Group, Mindy Schaefer of Chesapeake College, Dr. Sarah Guy of the Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network at Salisbury University, Deborah Owens of Owens Media Group, Joanna Smith of The Aspen Institute, and Ed Grenier of Junior Achievement Greater Washington.
“Each panelist brought a unique perspective on financial literacy, and shared expertise that we will use to help citizens on the Eastern Shore improve their economic health,” said Sandy Hale, a Junior Achievement Board Member and organizer of the summit. “The panel discussions made clear that financial illiteracy is detrimental to individuals, families and entire communities. By sharing this information, we hope to equip all citizens with the tools they need to insure their financial stability.”
Additional event sponsors were: Atlantic Financial Group, Brotman Financial Group, the Talbot Bank, Wells Fargo and Wye Financial & Trust.
Several awards and proclamations were presented during the summit to Junior Achievement for the organization’s work on improving financial literacy in the region. A surprise honor was presented to Mr. Oxnam. Comptroller Franchot presented Mr. Oxnam with the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award, given for improving the community and directly aiding the most vulnerable in society. In making the presentation, Mr. Franchot lauded Mr. Oxnam’s contributions to the community and success in building public/private partnerships to improve the lives of Marylanders.
”I’m grateful to live and work in this community, and feel compelled to help in any way that I can. I’m honored to receive the William Donald Schafer Helping People Award,” Mr. Oxnam said.