LaDonna N. Smith knows what it’s like to enter adulthood with no financial know-how. After many years of being tied down by debt and poor financial management, LaDonna learned the skills needed to turn her financial situation around. Now, she’s dedicated to empowering youth and young adults to make good financial choices.
“Smart money management is a vital life skill, and it’s never too early to start teaching children how to save and spend money. Teaching children personal financial literacy early on carries many tangible benefits into their adult lives,” says Smith.
However, for many educators and parents, it is often a challenge to make learning about finances fun for children. Nonetheless, when traditional methods of teaching financial literacy aren’t engaging children, it’s time to start thinking outside the box.
Since 2014, as a youth financial educator, entrepreneur and author, LaDonna has been creating those outside-the-box financial education tools and programs that both children and their parents can’t get enough of.
So, when Rachel Gordon, the Executive Director of the Institute for Financial Literacy, announced the 2019 EIFLE Award winners, it was no surprise to see Smith named among this year’s honorees. In recognition of her stellar contribution toward the promotion of financial literacy among youth, Smith was named the 2019 Youth Financial Educator of the year.
In accepting the award, Smith said, “I’m extremely honored to receive such an important award. To be recognized by one of the leading financial literacy organizations for my work, and to join past recipients who I have long admired and respected, is truly an amazing feeling.”
Smith is the originator and driving force behind Saving With A Goal (S.W.A.G.), a groundbreaking program that provides financial education workshops to young people, and at-risk young adults. This trailblazing program is preparing to mark its fifth-year anniversary and consistently creates innovative workshops in support of youth financial literacy.
Among other things, LaDonna N. Smith is the author of the award-winning children’s books The Money Tree, the creator of The Money Tree Board Game, and the creative genius behind several financial literacy workshops including A Taste of the Real World and The Money Ball Challenge.
The S.W.A.G. initiative has since gained a multitude of external partners, including several professional basketball players who have signed on as supporters of Smiths’ Money Ball Challenge.
The results of S.W.A.G. workshops have been simply incredible: 84% of the students asked for more information on opening a bank account; 70% of the students asked for more information on how to create an income opportunity for themselves; and 68% of the students asked for additional details on how to maintain a written budget.
In short, the lives of many young people have been irrevocably and positively changed due to Smith’s enthusiasm and unwavering commitment to promote early financial literacy.
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