Financial Literacy: Our Passion at The Bank of Tioga
Financial Literacy Program
In 2014, The Bank of Tioga made the decision to invest time and resources into financial literacy in its local community and surrounding areas. Our desire is to impact both students and adults through this program. Through the hiring of full time staff, it has been one of our great joys to see the many lives impacted through this program.
Mission: Financial Literacy
In the United States today, families are faced with critical financial decisions now more than ever. We serve as a resource to help families handle decisions concerning the economy, education and most importantly, personal finance with expertise. We are taking a long-term approach to solve financial pain while helping create a more financially savvy future generation.
Our mission: To transform our community by offering financial, economic and entrepreneurial education to local schools, non-profits and community organizations.
Joy Sparks - Lead Financial Literacy Coordinator
Joy Sparks is the Lead Financial Literacy Coordinator working in northwestern North Dakota. Joy joined The Bank of Tioga team in September 2016. Providing the education and having to tools to help create financially healthy young people is Joy’s favorite part of the job. Her strength area is elementary students. The in school bank days Joy’s favorite days of the week. The journey that brought the Sparks family to The Bank of Tioga includes college at NDSU and moving from North Dakota to the mountains of Colorado and worked in pharmaceutical sales. When it was time to raise her daughter Kiya, Joy and her husband Owen moved back home to the prairies of North Dakota.
Joy Sparks currently serves as Financial Literacy Coordinator with The Bank of Tioga. Below are some of the ways we are involved in our community.
Tioga, Ray, Divide County and Powers Lake kindergarten classes are learning from the Money Mammals how to save, share and spend smart. This class includes a lesson and a piggy bank for the students to save at home.
The Choices program is designed to help students make positive choices that will increase their career and life opportunities. Eighth graders from Tioga, Ray, Divide County and Powers Lake schools learn in an interactive decision-making workshop focused on keeping teens in school, motivating them toward their education and future and introducing them to practical skills to help them succeed.
Volunteers in Tioga, Ray and Crosby join together to bring Junior Achievement to students in kindergarten to 6th grade at Ray Elementary, Tioga’s Central Elementary, and Divide County Elementary. Junior Achievement is the nation's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures and make smart academic and economic choices.
Piggy Bank Pageant
Third graders in Tioga, Ray, Divide County and Powers Lake participate in a Piggy Bank Pageant in the spring. Students learn the power of saving and get to design their own personal bank. The winning designs will be shown at The Bank of Tioga and will get a cash prize to start their savings.
The Bank of Tioga is sponsoring the North Dakota Money $mart Teen Essay Contest. Students in grades 9-12 may enter the contest by answering the question below. One student will be named Money $mart Teen and will receive $100. The second place winner will be awarded $50 and the third place winner will receive $25.
Money $mart Teen Essay Question: Do you think student loan debt should be forgiven? If so, to what degree or in what circumstances? What do you believe will be the effect on the economy if your suggestion is implemented?
The Bank of Tioga is sponsoring the North Dakota Money $mart Meme Contest. Students in grades 6-8 may enter the contest by submitting their best original money meme about one of these topics: wants vs. needs or saving money. One student will be named Money $mart Meme Teen and will receive $75. The second place winner will be awarded $50 and the third place winner will receive $25.
Joy and the staff at The Bank of Tioga locations spend time in area classrooms to teach a variety of lessons in financial literacy. Reading books to elementary student, giving high school independent living students a lesson on the inner workings of a bank, teaching math students the power of compound interest. All of these topics and many more are shared each year.
On January 24, 2018, the first in-school savings bank in the state of North Dakota opened at the Divide County Elementary School. The Bank of Tioga’s DC Branch will serve students in kindergarten through sixth grade. At this branch, students can begin saving for their long-term and short-term goals. The DC Branch “hires” 4 student bankers to complete the transactions with the help of The Bank of Tioga staff. The Pirate Branch at Central Elementary plans to open in the fall 2021. Read more about this project here.
On November 16, 2021, the second in-school savings bank in the state of North Dakota opened at Central Elementary School in Tioga, ND. The Bank of Tioga’s Pirate Branch will serve students in kindergarten through sixth grade. At this branch, students can begin saving for their long-term and short-term goals. Like the DC Branch, the Pirate Branch “hires” 4 student bankers to complete the transactions with the help of The Bank of Tioga staff. Read more about this project here.
Real World Camp
At Real World Camp, 9th graders learn practical money skills while enjoying a fun day of activities. Five interactive morning sessions give students the financial skills they will need, then after lunch, they play a role-playing game of an adult with a job, a family and a budget in the Real World City. The Real World City is made up of businesses and organizations that set up shop to serve the students in their new adult roles as they confront real-life scenarios with visits to the shops as they try to stay in their family’s budget. The 2021 event will be held virtually with plans to return to the in person model which allows students to interact face to face with area professionals.
In any town or city there are those who have had the privilege of learning and forming habits around sound financial education and behaviors. We know not everyone grew up in a context where money and savings was talked about in a positive light. The goal of our community classes are to educate, equip and send those who attend our classes back into the community with hope that they can faithfully manage their personal finances. If you are a non-profit, government agency or business in the area please reach out and ask about our community classes.
We care about each community member’s individual situations and our coaching team wants to hear your story. Is managing money a struggle, need help with saving habits or information on how credit works? Our team has the resources for you. Talk to one of our financial coaches one-one-one about personal finance, money management, budgeting, setting goals, debt and more. If you or someone you know is needing help or experiencing hardship this season, please take a moment to reach out to us. Also, we have the ability to meet virtually!
For more information about these financial activities and more, contact Joy Sparks, The Bank of Tioga at 701.664.3388.