Despite being a busy mom of four young children, Ashley Matthews gives back in myriad ways, from volunteering at food banks to coaching youth sports. But for the Crane Group director of tax, teaching kids financial literacy is a passion play that she hopes inspires future generations. Here, Ashley weighs in on how she gives, and why it matters to her.
Q: You’ve volunteered to teach financial literacy to elementary students throughout Central Ohio for over a decade. Where — and why?
A: I have been an in-classroom volunteer with Junior Achievement for 13 years and deliver programs to elementary school students across Columbus City Schools and Westerville City Schools. I’m passionate about teaching children financial literacy and introducing financial concepts to them that they may never learn elsewhere.
Q: What do they learn from you?
A: I’ve worked with every grade level K-5 teaching the theme of entrepreneurship. They learn about being a good citizen of their community. Earning money. How money circulates through the community. Savings, credit and checking account management. Taxes and the services they provide. How supply chains work. And the risk and reward of running your own business.
Q: Why is teaching kids about money so important?
A: Financial literacy is something that largely falls on parents in our community, and they already have their hands full! Most of our schools do not have the programming to adequately teach these skills. In my childhood, my parents and the adults in my life did not model good financial habits, and I really struggled in college and early in my career to build those habits.
Q: What kind of impact can this kind of education make on kids?
A: The earlier a child can learn how to earn money, how to spend and save their money, and how to explore potential careers, the better they will be set up for success when they enter the workforce. I also love that the program can bring out the entrepreneurial spirit and inspire children to begin thinking about service or product gaps in their community and where they could potentially fill those gaps.
Q: Why is giving back important to you?
A: As a child, my family benefited immensely from the kindness of strangers and the support of our community. I am fortunate enough that I have the resources to repay that kindness. It is also very important to me and my husband that our children are raised to be kind and compassionate humans, and modeling this behavior for them helps tremendously in reaching that goal.
Q: How do you find ways to give back with your kids?
A: I love Besa! I’ve always wanted to branch out and give back to the community in other ways but never knew how to find those opportunities. Besa (www.besa.org) makes it so easy to find volunteer opportunities that fit causes I am passionate about but also allow me to bring my children along. There are also opportunities to volunteer from home. We have volunteered from home making Valentine’s Cards for senior citizens and baking sweet treats for Faith Mission and Choices. I loved volunteering with my two oldest children through Besa last year when we handed out ingredients for Thanksgiving dinners to families in our community. Any opportunity I have to give back with them beside me is incredibly rewarding.