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USU Extension 4-H Program Wins Fidelity Grant Challenge

Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014

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The Utah State University Extension 4-H Teens Reaching Youth (TRY) Program was recently recognized in the Wall Street Journal as the winner of the Fidelity Investments Financial Education Grant Challenge. Proposals were submitted from 73 nonprofit organizations and innovative thinkers from 30 states in response to Fidelity’s search for a pilot program that improves the financial literacy of high school students in low-income areas and utilizes the company’s employee volunteers and financial knowledge, according to a Fidelity press release.

Dave Francis, associate professor for USU Extension 4-H, said the TRY program provides leadership and mentorship opportunities for older youth to learn skills they can teach to peers and younger youth.

“Many 4-H staff members will be implementing this exciting program, and high school students from around the state will be coached and trained on basic financial matters by Fidelity employee volunteers,” Francis said. “Once they learn these skills and concepts, the youth will in turn teach them to other youth through various interactive activities and technology.”

Francis and Zuri Garcia, USU Extension assistant professor in Davis County, submitted the grant proposal to Fidelity knowing there would be many proposals submitted and it would be extremely competitive.

Francis said he was inspired by Teddy Roosevelt’s advice as given in The Man in the Arena: Citizenship in a Republic to dare mighty things.

“Utah 4-H ‘dared mighty things’ and gained a big win with the Fidelity grant proposal,” he said. “We’re confident that our proven peer-to-peer model and strong record in reaching and engaging youth, coupled with Fidelity’s financial knowledge and the company’s dedicated employee volunteers, will prove to be a winning combination for youth across Utah.”

The financial education pilot program will be implemented collaboratively among USU Extension 4-H faculty and staff around the state. Francis, Garcia, Amanda Christensen, USU Extension assistant professor in Morgan County, and Paul Hill, USU Extension assistant professor in Washington County, will play key roles. The youth development financial program will be made available to youth throughout the state.

According to the Fidelity press release, once the program is co-developed by Fidelity Investments and Utah 4-H, high school students from counties across Utah will apply this spring [2014] to participate. Those selected will engage in hands-on, experiential activities led by Fidelity employees during a weekend training session in May to learn basic financial concepts, such as how to budget, save and manage their money. Each teen leader will then teach a minimum of six hours to at least 15 youth in settings that include summer camps, clubs and after-school programs. Throughout the program, Fidelity employee volunteers will work with teen leaders online to provide further teaching tips and help in applying financial concepts in their own lives. Research will be conducted with the teen leaders and youth participants to gauge their financial knowledge, skills and attitudes both before and after the program. The pilot program will include evaluation to gauge effectiveness and assist future efforts.

“This program is a great example of what Extension has been doing for 100 years — engaging youth to make a positive change in the communities where they live,” said Kevin Kesler, USU Extension director of Utah 4-H programs. “I am pleased that Utah 4-H has been recognized on a national level for the vast capabilities to deliver quality youth development programs. We are excited to work with Fidelity Investments to implement a financial education opportunity for youth in Utah.”

Details on the Grant Challenge are online. Additional information on the TRY program is also online.

Related links:
Utah 4-H

Utah State University Extension

Contact: Dave Francis, 435-760-4109,

Writer: Julene Reese, 435-797-0810,

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