Our Dreamers have already received a great gift: the promise of a college education. The Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation (IHAD) promise also involves continued support — making sure our students have the skills they need to grow into responsible adults.
Financial literacy is an important component of success, so Ms. Dusenbery created a system that would teach students about saving an spending habits and reward them for doing their job: being on time, behaving appropriately in class, attending our enrichment activities, getting good grades and going above and beyond to help their classmates.
We call this our “Commission System.” Each student has a ledger full of faux checks that our IHAD classroom staff writes in amounts that correspond to attendance, behavior, grade data, etc. The Dreamers must balance their checkbooks each week. Just like in the real world, they can earn interest on “money” they save, and are penalized for overdrawing on their accounts.
Twice a week, they have the opportunity to purchase instant gratification items like snacks, or they can save up for bigger things like sports hats or a new backpack and even experiences, like trips to see a movie with a mentor or staff member. Our Dreamers are quickly learning how to manage money. As they grow older, we’re envisioning the Commission System to evolve to help pay the fees for the sports teams and extracurricular activities our Dreamers want to participate in, but couldn’t otherwise afford.
If you’d like to donate an item or gift card to IHAD to offer through the commission system, please contact the IHAD program staff.
Looking for financial literacy resources? Iowa College Aid offers programs for various age levels.