A group of UNM law students went to the head of the class at the South Valley Academy, an Albuquerque Public Schools charter high school, in late February. The law students led discussions about credit cards, payday lending and compound interest during a financial literacy service day.
In classrooms across campus, law students passed out Monopoly money for a dice game that illustrated the differences between payday loans and bank savings accounts and discussed the fine points of credit cards and credit scores. In the school's computer labs, the law students, as well as graduate student Dan Otter, walked high school students through the basics of saving and demonstrated the magic of compound interest. Other future lawyers shared their own personal stories in an effort to show how going to college and graduate school can lead to a brighter future.
In all, 18 UNM law students and one UNM education graduate student participated in the service-learning day, which was organized by UNM Law Professor Nathalie Martin and Stewart Paley, a teacher at South Valley Academy. MALSA, and the law school's Business Law Society, and the Business and Tax Clinic, all participated in the event.
"Following the event, the high school students were still talking about the wonders of compounding and the evils of credit cards," said Paley. "Many now want to open a bank account, and the chart on salaries has more of them than ever interested in attending college."
The service day was part of an effort at the UNM School of Law to promote financial literacy in the community. To help with that effort, Wells Fargo recently awarded a $50,000 grant to the law school as part of its own initiative to increase financial literacy among students across the country.
“We can’t wait to expand this program to other schools in Albuquerque, with the help of Wells Fargo and other community sponsors,” said Martin. “I am also very grateful to the South Valley Academy for letting us into their community.”