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Local Entrepreneur Holds Finance Seminar for Teens

Former economics teacher says he hopes to bridge a disconnect between economics in high school curriculum and the real world with a free event Sunday at Swirl.

Little good has come out of the financial crisis of 2007 that continues to have ripple effects all over the world. But Mill Valley resident David Harband hopes the financial crisis can provide a teachable moment, a chance to educate kids about personal finances and sound economic principles.

To do just that, Harband, 42, is holding a free personal finance seminar Sunday at on Miller Ave., hoping to draw at least 10 students and their parents and hold similar events through the year.

“I feel that education responds best to crises,” Harband said. “Drug education responded to the cocaine crisis of the 80s, sex education responded to the AIDS crisis of the 90s, and now we have the financial crisis.”

Harband notes that personal finance is barely mentioned in the California state high school curriculum, and that he hopes to supplement what they learn in math and economics classes.

“Teens today have experienced the financial crisis of the last few years, and may have even lost their own job, but have heard almost no ways to understand and deal with this crisis,” he said. “As new entrants to the workforce, and as future workers, they have heard little that will prepare them economically to deal with their own futures.”

Harband taught high school economics for two years at Hebrew Academy, and developed the idea for this seminar out of that experience.

“From an economic standpoint, the students had so little background in the real world,” he said. “I realized that there is sort of a disconnect between economics as it’s taught in the curriculum and the real world.”

Harband acknowledges that high school classes dabble in personal finance, but he wants to go further. He has invited parents to join the students to allay any fears they might have and to possibly spark a dialogue at home about personal finances.

Tam High teacher Geo Monley, whose Business Math course includes personal finance, said that several classes at Tam dip their toes into educating students on personal finance but none focus exclusively on the subject.

Monley has leaned on materials provided by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), a nonprofit foundation that seeks to “help all Americans acquire the information and gain the skills necessary to take control of their personal finances.”

An Independent Living course within the Social Studies department focuses on issues like balancing a checkbook, while economics classes dig into personal finance at various points in the semester.

Monley also has students use Bridges.com to pick a career and then develop a two-year budget to match that career after they’ve completed their education. Monley said there is definitely room for improvement on issues like figuring out percentages.

Harband hopes to turn Sunday’s event into a regular occurrence in conjunction with local schools.

“This seminar is a prototype that I am hopeful could be funded banks and go out to schools to turn it into a larger event – maybe 40 kids at a time, he said.

The 411: David Harband’s free personal finance seminar for teens is Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Swirl, 417 Miller Avenue. Free frozen yogurt from Swirl will be provided.

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