Money management is an essential life skill. What better way for kids to learn it than through a game that has actual financial rewards?
The H&R Block Budget Challenge is a free financial literacy game that does exactly that!
Through the program (which is back again for its third year in a row), students can learn personal finance and apply what they have learned in an online simulation of real-world financial situations and challenges. They can practice skills such as budgeting, paying taxes, saving for retirement, avoiding late fees, and more.
With the goal of raising financial scores, classrooms and individual students compete with one another for a chance to win classroom grants and student scholarships. The average student score of the classes enrolled is updated nightly from October through April. Halfway through and on the conclusion of the simulation, classes with the highest scores win a classroom grant.
A total of $3 million in school grants and individual student scholarships are up for grabs! Awards include 60 opportunities for classroom grants up to $5K, 132 opportunities for student scholarships of $20K, and a grand prize scholarship of $100K, along with various student incentives during game play.
Designed for students in the grades 9-12, the H&R Block Budget Challenge is open to students 14 years old and above. Students may play one simulation per semester but they are only eligible for prizing on their first attempt. Home school students may play one simulation per school year.
All accredited public and private schools (as well as homeschool programs) are welcome to participate. To join, all teachers have to do is sign up their classes for the challenge here.
H&R Block also provides teachers with resources for teaching money management. They have created lesson plans on a wide range of personal finance topics like reading a paycheck, understanding taxes, and 401(k) and insurance among others. Each lesson is paired with student resources, and is aligned to Common Core standards.
Holly, the teacher of one of the winning classes in a previous challenge, shares some of the invaluable lessons her students gained: “They learned that bankruptcy would not dismiss the responsibility of paying back student loans, and they learned which tax form to use so that student loan interest could be deducted from their income.” Read more about Holly’s class experience (and the grants her students won!) in this post.
With up to 3 million dollars in grants and scholarships up for grabs, more and more classes are participating each year. This is a terrific game that I hope you’ll introduce to YOUR students!
You can visit hrbds.org to register your classroom. Class creation closes one week prior to the simulation start date. The first deadline to sign up for this round is Jan. 7th, with rolling class creation deadlines through February 4th.
Disclosure: H&R Block has been a longtime supporter of The Cornerstone through their financial literacy initiatives. They have compensated me for helping them spread the word about these free resources for teachers and kids.