Magazine article The Crisis

Students Learn about Financial Literacy at Chicago School

Magazine article The Crisis

Students Learn about Financial Literacy at Chicago School

Article excerpt

Plenty is happening in this section of Chicago's South Side. Not long ago, liquor stores, were on nearly every corner and crime-infested public housing was abundant. Today, however, the liquor stores have largely disappeared and the public housing has been torn down.

"It was a very difficult community," said South Side native John W Rogers Jr. "The last 15 years, it's slowly but surely been improving. The community is rebuilding itself."

And one of the biggest changes is a new financial literacy-based school, aimed at instilling financial responsibility in children.

At the head of this initiative is Rogers himself, who is the chairman, CEO and chief investment officer of Ariel Investments, a privately owned Chicago-based money management firm that manages more than $13 billion in assets.

The idea for the Ariel Community Academy grew out of Ariel's "I Have A Dream Program," in which the company adopts and nurtures a 6th grade class. Rogers and his team quickly came to the realization that you need to start working with kids earlier than that if you really want to see positive results.

The school opened in 1996, a year after the Chicago Public Schools offered an initiative where community residents could apply to create and start schools. Located in the west wing of a renovated building, Ariel Community Academy has more than 400 students enrolled in grades pre-K through 8.

Though Ariel is not much more than a 15-minute drive from Chicago's thriving downtown, it can feel worlds apart to Ariel's students, the majority of whom are part of the subsidized free lunch program and don't have the strongest financial backing. …

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