A three-year grant from the Virginia Bankers Association Education Foundation to the University of Virginia’s College at Wise will allow the college’s Center for Economic Education to promote financial and economic literacy in the region’s public schools.

The grant, totaling $21,000, was announced on Tuesday, Sept. 8, on campus. The three-year commitment of $7,000 per year will support the Center’s efforts to help area public schools comply with Virginia’s requirement that each high school student complete a personal finance and economics course before graduating.

Bruce Whitehurst, president and CEO of the Virginia Bankers Association, said the support of the UVa-Wise Center for Economic Education celebrates the solid relationship between Virginia banks and the college. Whitehurst explained how Virginia banks have strongly encouraged Virginia to require the financial literacy and economics course in schools for several years.

“As community bankers, what we do in the classroom is so natural for us,” Leton Harding, UVa-Wise alumnus and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank said. “This gift will allow us to bring more information to the classrooms and to Southwest Virginia.”  Powell Valley National Bank is headquartered in Jonesville, VA and is a strong supporter of the Wise County community and the VBA Education Foundation.

Chancellor Donna P. Henry welcomed the Virginia bankers and guests to campus and told the group that UVa-Wise is dedicated to preparing its students for the responsibilities of citizenship, which includes financial literacy and a strong understanding of economics.

“Our students have many opportunities to be involved and engage with the community through internships and work they do with faculty on various research projects,” Henry said. “Our role in economic development is critical to Southwest Virginia’s future. We’re working hard to diversify the economy in Southwest Virginia.”

Del. Terry Kilgore, an alumnus of UVa-Wise, praised the VBA Education Foundation and the local community banks for stepping up in Richmond and stressing the need for financial literacy and economic education in public schools. Kilgore said promoting financial education is key when it comes to economic development of Southwest Virginia.

Daniel Mortensen, Executive Director of the Virginia Council on Economic Education, praised the VBA Education Foundation for being a strong support of the VCEE.  “I am a strong believer in the education of our young people in financial literacy and economics,” he said. “What students learn are essential life skills, and this tends to level the playing field.”

Gary Stratton, a UVa-Wise professor and director of the Center for Economic Education, thanked the VBA Education Foundation for providing the funding for the program.

“We will conduct economic workshops for teachers on topics that relate to basic economics, entrepreneurship, and the stock market among other economic issues,” Stratton said. “The Center will also provide materials with these workshops.”

About the Virginia Bankers Association and the Virginia Bankers Association Education Foundation.

Established in 1893, the Virginia Bankers Association is the unified voice for commercial and savings banks in Virginia. The VBA maintains an active legislative advocacy program, provides training to bankers statewide, and provides a variety of products and service to help its member banks best serve their communities.

The Virginia Bankers Association Education Foundation was formed in 2007 with the objective of recognizing the importance of economic education and financial literacy in Virginia and supporting the banking industry as a key participant in these areas. Their mission is to advance personal financial literacy to students in all public and private schools across the Commonwealth.