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Thank You to our Cash for Classrooms Grant Recipients

May 13, 2022

At Community Choice, we believe that learning financial lessons should start early and change as the child grows.

From our first allowance stipend to our first paychecks, and everything in between, there are so many decisions to make. Do you spend it? Save it? Spend part of it and save the rest? These are all great questions, and the answers aren’t as simple as you think. What a youngster decides early on just might set the stage for how financially secure they become as adults.

That’s why we support financial education in the classroom and want to help teachers who share in our belief.

Each year in April, in conjunction with National Credit Union Youth Month, we offer five, $500 Cash for Classroom Grants. Open to all teachers K-12, we simply ask what they would like to use the grant for and the outcome they’re hoping for.

Every year, we are impressed by the passion the teachers bring to their classroom and their out-of-the-box thinking regarding teaching financial lessons. From creating a schoolroom store to hosting a fundraiser, our winning teachers share our desire to prepare students for the financial world that awaits them.

Meet our $500 Cash for Classroom Grant recipients:

Kelly Rentschler
Kelly Rentschler, kindergarten, Columbia Elementary School (Brooklyn, MI)

Proposal: As a new kindergarten teacher, I would love to be able to create a store dramatic play center so that the students are able to experience hands-on learning with money.

In her word: “My kinders are so excited to learn! We use interactive, hands-on experiences to bring the real world into the classroom. We are so excited to add a dramatic play center to our classroom to enhance our learning even further!“

Stephanie McDowell
Stephanie McDowell, second grade, Garfield Elementary School (Wyandotte, MI)

Proposal: I would like my student leaders to create a fundraiser for a local charity as a schoolwide project. … Students will begin with the end in mind to create a target goal, timeline, make change for customers, and collect donations.

In her words: “It’s been fun watching the kids grow socially and academically and become such amazing leaders and humans. I am a proud second-grade teacher!”

Diana Rautio
Diana Rautio, elementary ESL (English as Second Language), Northville Public Schools (Northville, MI)

Proposal: My anticipated outcome is for all English Language Learner students to independently identify and use money accurately and to their advantage.

In her words: My students come from all over the world, so incorporating lessons and activities focused on U.S. currency and financial education is important for their success!”

Andrea Whitsell
Andrea Whitsell, special education, Godwin Heights Middle School (Godwin, MI)

Proposal: I would like to see the students learning how to keep track of their finances. This would include check/saving registers, real-looking paper money and coins, how to sign up for accounts and how to save money so bills and living expenses are covered.

In her words: “The objective would be the students would understand the credit and debit side of money, and they would understand the necessity of being prepared financially to pay bills and purchase ‘want’ items.”

Dawn McBride
Dawn McBride, third grade, Garfield Elementary School (Wyandotte, MI)

Proposal: I would like to have students learn how to save money and make deposit and withdrawals within our classroom economy.

In her words“I want to create a classroom economy where students can work towards jobs and earn cash for doing their work. In the end, they would be able to go to a classroom store to buy things with their savings.”

Our commitment to supporting education across Michigan doesn’t end there. We host reality fairs, make $100,000 in scholarships available every year, and annually host backpack drives to prepare students for their upcoming school year.

Thank you to all teachers who applied for a grant and to everyone who makes financial education a part of their classrooms. You are making a difference by teaching such a valuable life skill.