OAK GROVE HEIGHTS, AR (KAIT) - A special guest traveled all the way from the state Capitol to see a group of students.
State Treasurer Dennis Milligan drove all the way to Oak Grove Middle School to pay students some much-deserved recognition.
"AR Finance AR Future," Milligan said. "Is a program when I came into the treasury three and a half years ago. I'm passionate about our kids. AR Finance AR Future is a partnership with a company called EverFi. In this particular case, we're teaching fourth through sixth graders about financial literacy. I've traveled all around Arkansas promoting this program. Actually, being here when we're handing out certificates for graduation for this."
Social Studies Teacher at Oak Grove Middle School, Stacey Friend, said she's seen positive changes in her students.
"Participating in this program," Friend said. "Has helped my students to learn about a savings account. They can save money for the things they really want to have. It's helped them to learn the difference between a debit and a credit card. Knowing that every time you swipe that card doesn't necessarily mean you don't have to pay for things. It's helped them learn that one day they might need a loan to go to college or buy a vehicle or buy a home. And what the process is in that."
Milligan said you know the program is making a difference by what kids in the program are doing and saying.
"Every day from a little one to a big one we're making financial decisions," Milligan said. "By grabbing these kids and teaching them the fact that a 21% credit card is not a good way to manage their finances we're actually seeing kids tell their parents, 'mom, don't use that credit card. Let's save for two weeks and we can buy with cash.' So, we're catching them very early and this is something where we're seeing results that really do matter."
Friend said she hopes the program will have a lasting and permanent impact on the kids.
"These are 10, 11 and 12-year olds," Friend said. "Having these kids learn this at this young age, when they get jobs when they're 16, hopefully, that will carry over and they won't be the ones at 18 in college start getting credit cards and going into debt at a very young age."
Milligan said this program has even helped improve the state's rating dramatically.
"We're actually seeing tremendous results in our state," Milligan said. "In three and a half years we've raised our rating from an F in financial literacy to a B. So, I'm so encouraged, and I know we're getting the results our constituency would expect and demand."
"I've been using this program for three years," Friend said. "I've seen the difference in the kids. They learn how to use their money well. At the end of the year they're going, 'Maybe I should save this for something else.' Or 'Maybe I should save this and not buy candy or the latest video game. Maybe I should save it for college.'"
Milligan said this program is about investing in the state's future.
"You might say what does the Treasury have to do with education," Milligan said. "Well, we're all strapped with financial decisions and I think we're doing our part to ensure that Arkansans, our kids, our future. . .have a great opportunity to succeed. Because it's not always how much money you make. It's how you manage your money. And so, the effects and the feedback that we're getting from kids around the state has been tremendous."
The program is offered through the Arkansas 529 College Investing Plan through the Treasurer of State's Office.
Milligan said thousands of students across the state have been touched by the program.
Oak Grove Middle School is the largest class of graduates they've seen so far.
For more information about Oak Grove Middle School, click here.