Building financial literacy through My Classroom Economy

During my tenure with Vanguard, I have had the humbling opportunity to return to my alma mater several times to help recruit new talent. This was an incredibly nostalgic experience for me, as the career fair is where I gained my first impressions of Vanguard – where I would spend the next ten years of my career (and counting!). Whenever I am meeting students, explaining who Vanguard is and what we do, a question that I am inevitably asked is, “Why did you accept a job at Vanguard?” This is a great question to have when exploring employer options as it is natural to want to understand a current employee’s motivation for joining a company. That being said, there is a more illuminating question to ask. If you really want to uncover a true sense of the company culture, try asking “What made you stay at Vanguard?”

Why I stay

My answer, at least partly, is my experience with My Classroom Economy. My Classroom Economy, or MyCE for short, is a robust classroom management system that focuses on building financial literacy through experiential learning. The basic idea is that MyCE provides the resources necessary for educators to establish an “economy” in their classroom that is interactive, ongoing, and builds essential financial skills. The economy created in the classroom introduces and reinforces basic financial topics such as receiving a paycheck, saving, and spending. In addition, students get to experience paying rent, buying insurance, and budgeting. The entire program is entirely free to use and totally customizable to each classroom’s needs.

Why it matters to me

This particular outreach from Vanguard into the community is important to me because of the mission and its connection to my own life. My mother was an elementary school teacher for her entire career and I witnessed first-hand the impact that an educator can have on their students outside of traditional school curriculum topics. By engaging with MyCE and giving back to educators, I’m able to help contribute to the effectiveness of teachers across the country.

What I do for MyCE

In addition to providing the materials via our website, Vanguard’s North Carolina campus takes a further step into the community by hosting My Classroom Economy Day with a local school each year. This year, I had the privilege of leading the event and facilitating a field trip to our campus. In September, 80 fifth grade students from Shamrock Gardens Elementary School in Charlotte, NC joined us for a day of fun and learning. Our students picked from several career tracks and earned paychecks by participating in small groups with different areas of our business. They were offered the ability to buy insurance, and those who didn’t had to surrender some of their earned “money” when a natural disaster struck later in the day. They were then able to use their earned money to bid on auction items to take home with them. They also participated in a hands-on activity regarding professional presence that taught lessons about how their actions and words with classmates can have unintended consequences. This keynote event was a culmination of a year of planning by my team of volunteers and left a lasting impression on the students and those of us, nearly 40 in total, who worked to make this day possible.

So as you explore careers on your journey, remember to find ways to uncover a company’s true culture by asking the right questions. You may come to find that the work you do for a company is only half of the reason for starting your career there and the rest may be opportunities like My Classroom Economy. MyCE is just the tip of the iceberg for reasons why my peers and I choose to work for Vanguard.

-AJ W.

Want to learn more about My Classroom Economy? Check out these videos! And if you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at

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