Toyota Financial Services’ commitment to expanding financial education and team member community involvement was acknowledged by the Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) during a reception held on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 with the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) 115th Honorary Congressional Host Committee. At the reception, Toyota Financial Savings Bank Vice Chairman Ray Spect, TFS Deputy General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer Brian Holbrook, and TFS Community Relations Senior Analyst Damion Tucker were proud to represent TFS and accept the “FSR Corporate Social Responsibility Leadership Award” on its behalf.
The award was earned in large part because of Toyota’s Financial Empowerment (FE) Month initiative. This year, Toyota had 150 team members across 15 offices hold FE events, through which we connected with an impressive 678 students! These students came from a diverse group of organizations that included Boys & Girls Clubs (50%), Girl Scouts (25%), Junior Achievement (10%), and local schools (15%).
FE events give valuable financial lessons designed to promote upward social mobility. One student’s reflections captured the importance of such education: “The choices you make in your life (college path, career, family, spending habits, credit decisions) all tie together and can make your life great or land you into struggles.” Based upon the feedback received from the organizers, there was 100% agreement that the participating students were engaged in the content that was presented and that the Financial Empowerment events had a significant impact on them.
In order to make budgeting and other financial lessons more engaging, most FE events pair an interesting and highly developed curriculum with fun activities, games, and prizes.
For example, the ten Toyota team members from Chicago DSSO and Central Regional Office arrived with Panera bagels and pastries to start the day off right with their audience of 55 high school students from Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Illinois. In between teaching about the importance of sound financial decisions and the value of a good credit score, students were given opportunities to win 11 goody-filled TFS cinch bags, 4 $25 BP gas gift cards, 1 Toyota Corolla toy car (to appease that one student who insists on a Toyota giveaway), and other prizes.
Team member Laurie Eakes of the Nashville DSSO led a session for school-age children 10 and under at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee. Since her group was younger, she focused on introducing and exploring the concepts of saving money and having a budget. Most of the kids were already earning money, whether through an allowance from their parents or by performing various small chores, such as taking out the garbage, doing the dishes, and feeding pets, but only starting to think about saving for the future. Most kids either saved to buy a big-ticket item (like a hoverboard) or were planning to save their money indefinitely, so the concept of having a budget was fairly new to them. Through highly interactive discussions and activities, Laurie was able to help the participants create a plan for spending, saving, and sharing the money they earn. To further instill the idea that saving money could be fun, she gave each student their own piggy bank and encouraged them all to start saving.
At the Guadalupe branch of the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA), the team members of Customer Service Center – West (CSCW) had the added challenge of presenting to more than 160 students, ranging from kindergartners to high schoolers. While having worked with this Club for several years did help, CSCW volunteers still took great care to modify their lessons to better connect with each age group. They taught the kindergartners how to differentiate between wants and needs; discussed a story about saving money and earning interest with 2nd and 3rd graders; explored financial responsibilities and good practices with 4th, 5th, and 6th graders; and demonstrated the value of good credit to the older students. In each case, age-appropriate games and activities made learning about money management fun, easy to comprehend, and memorable. Following the event, the Toyota volunteers noted that they left feeling inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of the students they met that day.
Toyota team members from the San Francisco DSSO visited their local Boys & Girls Club at John Muir Middle School to present the Financial Empowerment workshop to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students.
Although they were missing their regularly scheduled yoga class, the students showed just how flexible they were by arriving with a positive attitude and readily participating. The students’ attentiveness and expressions of gratitude made this FE event particularly rewarding for our team members. The event’s organizer, Angie Perez, noted the pride they felt in knowing that they were helping to build bright financial futures for today’s youth.
Thank you to all who donated their time and money to make Financial Empowerment (FE) Month a huge success! If you’d like to volunteer for a Financial Empowerment event, contact your local Community Ambassador or Team IMPACT member. Although Financial Empowerment Month is over, Toyota team members are welcome to host financial workshops in their community throughout the year.