Carmel nonprofit Tru Direction provides free finance courses for area students


By Chenyao Liu

Tru Direction, a nonprofit focused on promoting financial education, is partnering with Banzai to offer free personal finance courses for local schools.

Banzai is a platform designed to introduce students to adult financial situations, from budgeting and paying insurance to navigating taxes. Although Banzai is typically sponsored for schools by local banks or credit unions, Carmel-based Tru Direction decided to sponsor it for schools in central Indiana.

“We thought it was really a great program, and financial literacy is such an important need in schools and for students,” said Ruth Nisenshal, program director of Tru Direction. “(We) selected to sponsor Banzai programs in schools because of its unique web-based interactive program.”

Tru Direction is sponsoring Banzai for 14 schools in Hamilton, Marion and Elkhart counties. Local schools include Carmel Middle School, Clay Middle School, Hamilton Southeastern High School and Fishers Junior High School.

Banzai courses use realistic scenarios to teach students about financial planning. The online curriculum is then supplemented by printed workbooks provided to teachers. The course work can be completed remotely, and teachers can monitor student progress.

“Because (Banzai) has always been a virtual program, it’s really become more significant that students can do it at home,” Nisenshal said. “It doesn’t depend on a student being in a classroom. That made it more important now than in previous years.”

Banzai’s syllabus aligns with the Indiana Dept. of Education’s standards for financial literacy.

“When I talked to several teachers, they said that this fulfills the financial literacy aspect (in the curriculum),” Nisenshal said. “A lot of schools don’t necessarily teach financial literacy, so (Banzai) fulfills that need.”

Tru Direction works throughout the nation to promote financial fitness. It has an annual scholarship program for students that can be used for expenses related to higher education.

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