Citizens Bank of Newburg has partnered with EverFi Inc. to bring an interactive financial management program to local high school students at no cost to the schools.

The bank is providing students at Rolla and Newburg high schools with access to the EverFi Financial Literacy Platform.

This web-based program uses the latest in new media technologies – video, animations, 3D, gaming, avatars and social networking – to bring complex financial concepts to life for today's digital generation.

Through the platform, students will become certified in more than 600 topics in financial education.

"We believe it is essential that students leave us as financially literate citizens, prepared with the tools necessary to succeed in whatever path they may choose," said Craig Hounsom, assistant superintendent with Rolla Public Schools.

"Many of our students will be making decisions now that could affect their financial well-being for several years to come," Hounsom said. "We very much appreciate Citizens Bank of Newburg for partnering with us to offer this program that allows students to understand the information they need to make good financial choices and some of the ramifications that can come from uninformed decisions."

Dan Copeland, personal finance business teacher with Newburg High School, said, "Ideally, Personal Finance is now a course required by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. As a result, our Personal Finance course will arm students with a basic knowledge of financial skills designed to help students throughout a lifetime.

"The Newburg R-II Public Schools Personal Finance Curriculum is aligned to the Missouri State Personal Finance Competencies in order accomplish knowledge in the key areas of: income, money management, spending and credit, as well as savings and investing," Copeland said.

"In order to achieve this alignment, our curriculum is grounded in the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) curriculum as well as enhanced by the generosity of Citizens Bank of Newburg's sponsorship of EverFi Financial Literacy Software.

"We are very excited here at Newburg R-II Public Schools to team with NEFE and Citizens Bank of Newburg in order to offer student's essential financial skills that we believe are absolutely imperative in today's society," Copeland said.

"Very few times in history have ever posed such an important time when citizens would need such skill in personal finance as we see today. We believe that an investment in our children is always an investment in our future," Copeland said.

The 10-unit course offers six hours of programming aimed at teaching, assessing and certifying students in a variety of financial topics including credit scores, insurance, credit cards, student loans, mortgages, taxes, stocks, savings, 401k's and other critical concepts that map to national financial literacy standards.

The platform tracks the progress and score of every student and provides students who successfully complete the course with Certification in Financial Literacy, a valuable mark of distinction on college applications and résumés.

According to Douglas Fish, president of Citizens Bank of Newburg, "We made the decision to invest in our local high schools primarily, and most importantly, due to the fact that financial literacy has never been more important than in the world we live in today.

"Student loan debt in the U.S. has risen to in excess of $1 trillion. One-half of young adults are graduating from high school without the basic knowledge of how credit works," Fish said. "Good credit skills directly impact the quality of life. EverFi is a valuable tool for teachers in our local schools and we at Citizens Bank are excited to have provided the Rolla and Newburg School Districts with this program."