Fairfax HS DECA Students Receive $7500 Donation from Main Street Bank for Financial Literacy Project

After winning first place in the Project Management Financial Literacy state DECA competition, Fairfax HS seniors Austin Mitchell, Sami Moudarres, and Marco Vicencio needed to prepare for the international conference in Anaheim, California this weekend. The three students were invited to present at the weekly administration meeting by their principal, Dr. Georgina Aye to polish their message. What the students did not know was that Dr. Aye also welcomed members of MainStreet Bank who presented the boys with a check for $7500 to help pay for the trip.

The student project, “Make It Market”, is designed to help elementary students learn the basics about financial literacy and entrepreneurship. The three FHS seniors worked with elementary students on lessons about turning hobbies or interest into a business, and then held a Market Day for students to sell their products to their classmates using pretend money.

"Growing up, a lot of kids have an entrepreneurial spark in them and want to be able to create a cool product that they have in mind and try selling it; however, at such a young age there isn't really any opportunity to actually go out and start selling to an audience,” said Mitchell. “Additionally, there's a limited number of business-related classes offered in school; the earliest class we could take was Intro to Marketing in 9th grade. For these young students, The Make it Market gave them the platform to put their entrepreneurial mindsets to action and were able to learn in-depth steps in the start-up process. Getting to start their own businesses and make executive decisions on how they would operate helped students learn various steps in the start-up process that they otherwise might not understand if they were just taking notes in class. On the day of the Make it Market, we also saw a lot of positive feedback from parents, who helped students create their products at home. These parents loved seeing their students’ ideas being executed on the market day and supported them by shopping around and buying their products."

For MainStreet Bank, the Make It Market project aligns with their goal of helping students learn about financial literacy. Through the bank’s Making Change program, each employee is provided $1000 to make an annual donation to a community organization or individual of their choice. The bank first learned of the students’ fundraising goal after Mouddares participated in Virginia Bank Day at the bank’s Fairfax headquarters. Mimi Hailiegiorgis, senior vice president for retail banking, rallied her colleagues to action. Together, nine employees pooled $7500 to pay for the trip for the students.

“We are so proud of these students for coming up with a creative way to help young kids learn to handle money and build a business,” Hailiegiorgis said. “We are excited to support their dreams of taking Make It Market to a broader audience and competing in Anaheim. And we’re honored that MainStreet Bank entrusts its employees with the resources to touch lives in the community where we live.”

"We couldn’t believe the amount when we saw the check, and it was difficult to contain our excitement,” said Moudarres. “Many students who competed in State-level competition who qualified for international competition could not go because of the cost, so we feel extremely fortunate and grateful to be given support from our local bank. We’re moved by how community oriented MainStreet Bank is and are thrilled to know that MainStreet Bank cares about promoting financial literacy among youth as much as we do.”

The students left for California and are in for full days of competition with DECA students across the country, and some days of fun with their peers at Disneyland. DECA, an international organization, is designed to prepare high school and college students for careers in marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, and management.

“We are truly blessed to receive this donation from MainStreet Bank for our community involvement in financial literacy, and want to make sure that we continue to put our best feet forward at the DECA International Career Development Conference in Anaheim,” said Vicencio, “While Sami, Austin, and I are attending the conference with high hopes and even greater goals for the competition, we are also looking forward to spending a nice, enjoyable time bonding together at Disneyland and touring Anaheim with other Fairfax High School DECA members throughout the week. Additionally, we plan on taking advantage of all the professional/career opportunities at the conference, and networking with fellow DECA members across the country. We look forward to returning with good news from our competition.”

“It has been so rewarding to work with Sami, Austin, and Marco as they apply their marketing project management skills to promote the importance of financial literacy, “said marketing teacher and DECA sponsor Kay Walters. “These three students have honed their marketing strategies over their four years of high school and accepted the challenge to develop a plan to implement financial literacy in a local elementary school. The process required multiple meetings with stakeholders and preparing written documentation as well as an oral presentation to share the planning, organizing and execution of the experience. It is truly the highlight of teaching to see students recognized by MainStreet Bank for their authentic learning project and for the students to use those funds to travel to the DECA International Career Development Conference.”