Professor John Longo introduces his +Club financial literacy initiative during at Boot Camp at Rutgers University-Newark in the fall.

Professor launches initiative to teach high schoolers financial literacy, life skills

Finance professor John Longo has made a career of advising people how to invest their money and teaching students about some of the sophisticated aspects of finance.

Now, he’s focusing on more fundamental money lessons that are meant to educate and inspire a new generation to understand how to save money and other life habits to help prepare them to be financially independent.

During a month dedicated to financial literacy, Longo and his friend and co-founder Mark Pearlman, a media and marketing professional, announced the roll-out of the +Club after piloting the teaching content during a fall weekly program at Newark’s West Side High School and a crash course bootcamp at Rutgers University-Newark.

“Underserved communities in New Jersey face a critical need for access to financial literacy education,” said Longo, a distinguished professor of professional practice who works as chief investment officer and portfolio manager for Beacon Trust when he’s not teaching. “Many individuals and families lack access to the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate today’s complex financial landscape, often leading to limited opportunities for socioeconomic advancement.”

“The need for free, accessible, high-quality financial education resources is more urgent than ever,” he said. “Our pioneering social impact initiative offers an effective, timely solution to this once seemingly intractable problem.”

Longo and Pearlman created an engaging multi-media content that teaches students about financial concepts, like using credit cards and living within your means. Lessons about money, the stock market, the economy and bankruptcy are delivered in two sections: Money 101 and Money 201. Some of the most compelling content is delivered through the lived experiences of adult role models in their community who speak about belonging, time management, uncertainty and healthy relationships. 

“The +Club offers a foundational educational experience for students in an engaging and edutainment manner to help prepare them for life in the modern economy,” said Pearlman, who has a track record of non-profit activism. “Our initiative aims to foster good financial habits and behaviors, putting students on a long-term path to building wealth and, ultimately, financial independence.

View inspiring “Words to Live By” videos of Rutgers University-Newark Provost and Executive Chancellor Jeffrey Robinson, who is also a professor and award-winning author, and Eric Pennington, the City of Newark’s business administrator, and others.

Longo and Pearlman plan to launch online classes powered with gamified learning developed by the innovative and community-minded 1Huddle, a Newark-based computer software firm. They have also reached across Rutgers Business School to tap an assortment of resources, from MBA students who are helping with strategy and alumni interested in teaching their content to students to school leadership for help securing funding to sustain the +Club mission.

In August, to kick off the first phase of their initiative, Longo plans to deliver the +Club lessons to Rutgers Business School Assistant Dean Charles Brown’s new cohort of freshman students starting the B-STAR Program. Over the next two years, Longo and Pearlman hope to roll out +Club across the Newark school system. 

“Our goal is to ensure financial literacy for all,” Longo said, “and we’re starting in our own backyard.”

Find out more about what the +Club experience offers students, and listen to the reactions of some Rutgers first-generation students after participating in the program.  



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