When Brandon Copeland isn't chasing his dreams as an NFL player, he is pursuing a career in academia as a financial literacy professor at University of Pennsylvania. The goal is to help his students develop confidence when it comes to the often intimidating world of personal finance, and on Oct. 6, middle and high school students will have a chance to jumpstart their own interest and knowledge with Copeland.
In partnership with FitMoney.org, Copeland is hosting a free virtual assembly, open to students from 7th to 12th grade, parents and teachers, to cultivate healthy financial habits.
From budgeting to renting an apartment, these are practical subjects that impact all people, yet they are not often discussed in the classroom.
"These are the things that actually matter. There are certain decisions in our lives that are constant ... You don't have to guess whether or not your student is going to use this," Copeland said. "You might have to guess whether they're going to use something that they learned in chemistry class or something that they learned in social studies, but this information specifically, you know for a fact that they will use it. Their credit is going to be important to them one day. Budgeting is going to be important to them one day."
While Copeland would typically host these events in person, like so many things, it is being conducted virtually. The advantage is that Copeland can reach more students, parents and teachers, but he is also aware that virtual meeting minutes "feel like dog years."
Realistically, a single event won't be able to cover every angle of every subject, but Copeland hopes an open conversation will spark curiosity in the students he addresses.
"For this age group, the biggest thing especially in the one-off event, my job is to encourage interest in the subject," Copeland said. "My job is to spark your interest and then get you to want to ask more questions and follow up. Whether you get creative and start using YouTube to learn more about this or you're starting to ask these questions to your parents or you're going to FitMoney.org to learn that stuff. Having these conversations with your parents, a lot of these things are just about the conversations. These are things that will help you learn as you grow."
This information, while practical and a necessity, also allows people to take control of their financial situation to flourish rather than simply get by. It's helpful for people of all ages, but by reaching middle and high school students, it builds the foundation at a younger age, and with FitMoney.org, Copeland built a financial "playbook" as a resource beyond the event.
Copeland teaches a class at University of Pennsylvania called "Life 101" focusing on this very subject matter and just this week, joined Kiplinger as a contributing editor. He came to this work seeking his own financial freedom, and his mission is to now share it with others who might not have access to this information.
"I always thought it wasn't fair that I only get this information just because I'm an NFL player, right? No one gives it to my mother, no one gives it to my brother, no one gives it to my cousin. All these people who are deserving and work their tails off and work just as hard, if not harder, than me. They could use this information, and it would help set themselves up for their own life goals of financial freedom."
The free virtual financial literacy assembly will take place on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m, and you can RSVP here.