More than just a milestone
One million. That is the number of students Vanguard’s My Classroom Economy (MyCE) program has reached since its launch just under a decade ago. My Classroom Economy is a free financial literacy program and classroom management system for teachers that allows students to learn financial responsibility through hands-on learning. My Classroom Economy, and its sister program My Home Economy (for parents and guardians), are entirely powered by volunteers across Vanguard. These crew dedicate time and talent outside of their “day jobs” to fuel a “passion project” that is part of Vanguard’s suite of community programs. For me, my “day job” is in our business that serves financial advisors, specifically Registered Investment Advisors. In my role as Channel Lead, my team works with our sales group and clients to develop and execute strategy for how we can best serve this important client base. Within MyCE, I’ve volunteered in a number of roles and am proud to currently serve as the Program Chair.
Anyone that knows me has heard me say that MyCE is the perfect marriage of two of my passions- education and personal finance. Before I came to Vanguard I completed the Teach for America program, teaching seventh grade math at a school in Charlotte, North Carolina. I found my way to Vanguard by following a tip received from teammates on an intramural kickball team and channeling my finance degree. I started at Vanguard in Client Services, helping clients meet their investment needs. I remember a colleague leaning over my desk and making the connection that as a former teacher, I might want to learn about this financial literacy program Vanguard offered. I went to an information session and was hooked. My Classroom Economy linked what I loved about my pre-Vanguard career with my current one, allowing me to stay deeply connected to the education community, while growing professionally with a company I love.
I’m exceptionally proud of our recent milestone of reaching one million students. But to me, it is more than just a milestone. It is a million lives impacted and put on a more responsible financial trajectory because of the dedication of their teachers and the passion of a volunteer team. In pausing to celebrate this manifestation of how volunteer hours have made a real difference, I also was struck not only by what I’ve given to the program over the years, but what it has given me. My time with MyCE not only helped me continue to feel fulfilled professionally, but it also has played a pivotal role in driving my career at Vanguard. My peers in the program would say the same about their own experiences. Again, more than just a milestone.
After seven and a half years and several different “day jobs” at Vanguard, I’ve realized that my volunteer roles allowed me to learn new skillsets and pursue interests before making career leaps. I took on a strategic assignment with MyCE, analyzing options for a potential program expansion before joining Vanguard’s Corporate Strategy group as an analyst. MyCE helped me learn how to be a people leader, first by leading the MyCE team in North Carolina and then stepping into the Program Chair seat, leading the full volunteer team of roughly 150 crew. Along the way I’ve had the chance to sharpen skills in public speaking, stakeholder management and even sales, all of which have translated to my “day jobs”.
As I think about the next million kids that My Classroom and My Home Economy will impact, I’m confident that impact will continue to extend to those volunteers behind the scenes who power the program. I think it is so important to find a place to give back that allows you to pursue a passion. That passion will be what keeps you coming back to give your time year after year. And while you’re there, embrace the opportunities to sharpen your skills and learn new things. You might not realize it at the time (I certainly didn’t), but you might just be laying the foundation for your next career move.