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Teaching dollars and sense to school kids

Abdullah Al-Bahrani, director of the Northern Kentucky University Center for Economic Education, with Danny Dollar Academy students.

Northern Kentucky University’s Center for Economic Education (NKU CEE) has partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland to bring the spirit of entrepreneurship, leadership and financial responsibility to elementary school students.

The Danny Dollar Academy teaches financial literacy through the story of an 11-year-old aspiring millionaire and his successful lemonade-stand venture. The premise of the Danny Dollar Academy is based on the book “Danny Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire,” written by Ty Allan Jackson. Jackson wrote the story after he was unable to find a book that addressed the “dollars and cents” questions that his 6-year-old son was asking.

Impressed by the educational value of the book, Abdullah Al-Bahrani, director of NKU CEE, reached out to Jackson in 2016 to develop a financial literacy program, ultimately bringing Danny Dollar Academy to life.

The four-week-long program begins with students reading “Danny Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire” in their classrooms. Lesson plans created by NKU CEE and the Federal Reserve of Cleveland connect the concepts in the book to state education standards.

“The Academy is successful because we merge reading literacy with entrepreneurship, personal finance and economic education curriculum,” said Al-Bahrani. “Students are encouraged to create their own businesses, and this real-life application helps make the project memorable.”

For example, third graders from Robert D. Johnson Elementary in Ft. Thomas sold tumblers for their project. The tumblers were marketed through student-made commercials that ran during the school’s morning announcements. The students raised $200 and selected the Campbell County Animal Shelter to donate the funds raised by their project.

“Students were able to have a real voice in their learning and see how their actions can have a positive impact on the broader community,” said Johnson Elementary teacher Aimee Shadwell.

In 2017-18, Danny Dollar Academy reached 912 students from 13 school districts across four states. This year, they are on track to reach 1,300 students throughout the country thanks to the partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.