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NORMAL — Students at YouthBuild McLean County were eager to gain some real-world knowledge on Friday.

In honor of financial literacy month, more than 70 State Farm Bank employees spent the day with 100 YouthBuild students, giving mini-lessons on financial education, including banking, car purchasing, car insurance, home and rental insurance, credit cards and future finances.

“They are making it interesting,” said YouthBuild student Malik Barker of Bloomington. “The instructors are cracking jokes and we’re having a good time.”

Barker, 19, said he appreciated the investment explanations about stocks and bonds. He also jumped to ask and answer questions in the car purchasing segment.

“I can hardly keep track of my bus pass, let alone work my way through car insurance and purchasing information. It’s all stuff we need to know,” said Barker.

Students were split into groups and paired with a State Farm Bank mentor. The mentors answered individual questions and followed students to each session throughout the YouthBuild building on Wylie Drive in Normal.

YouthBuild is a nonprofit agency that includes the school (which is part of Unit 5) for students up to age 21, an academy for adults to receive their GED, an AmeriCorps community service program and a summer jobs program.

State Farm Bank senior compliance analysts Brian Everett and Scott Vogelmeier instructed the future finances class.

“I enjoy it. These are practical things not taught in high school. We’re taking this foreign material and explaining it to young people,” said Everett.

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Vogelmeier said he likes to “assist people who assist themselves.”

“The people at YouthBuild are working hard to succeed and improve themselves. They are really engaged and participating,” said Vogelmeier.

Each time a student answered a question or offered input, instructors handed out red tickets that were redeemable in the onsite State Farm “swag store" for piggy banks, calculators, phone chargers and jumper cables.

Judy Chapa, vice president of corporate social responsibility for the Financial Services Roundtable in Washington, D.C., visited the learning day at YouthBuild.

FSR represents the financial service industry by working with insurance groups like State Farm.

“Financial literacy is more difficult to learn as you get older and it’s easier to learn good habits and break bad ones at a younger age,” said Chapa. “It’s encouraging to see a great turn out. All the State Farm employees are so committed to giving back.”

YouthBuild student Tre Bassett of Carlock was all ears during the lessons, scoring a handful of red tickets.

“It’s a great opportunity for the community here to be enlightened and educated financially,” said Bassett, 23. “Maybe it will change the future for some of the students. It will definitely change mine.”

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Follow Julia Evelsizer on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer

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