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Since 11-year-old Danielle Gafni started it as a family project in 2011, Bankaroo has been giving families a way to approach solid financial education, serving not only as a virtual bank, but also as a source of money information and tips. Educators around the globe are discovering this valuable tool and putting it to work in the classroom.

Danielle

Photo: Danielle Gafni

Growing up in the Silicon Valley, Danielle was always fascinated by computers and their endless possibilities. She likes to go on walks with her dad, Etay, and pitch ideas to him.

One day, they were out shopping and she wanted dad to get her something using her chore money.

Dad said she already used it for something else, but they couldn’t remember what for.

Danielle wanted to build a website and a mobile application that will help parents teach kids about the value of money, as well as help them manage their allowance, gift and chores money.

This was the inception of the bankaroo idea.

She came up with bankaroo (http://www.bankaroo.com), a free service that is a virtual bank for kids money, where they can save up for goals, use money for different things while their parents can add allowance, chore and gift money into their virtual account. The real money stays in the parents’ wallets, but the virtual representation of it is very real.

Danielle came up with the functionality and the design and dad developed the website and app. Danielle was the QA specialist and critique, and also did all the tutorials you can see on the site.

The service is completely free and is a service for the community and for all kids out there.

Bankaroo usage grew beyond just the families and today many elementary schools are using it as part of their math and finance education. One of them is Sara Johnson, a teacher at Rolling Hills Elementary School in Fairfield, California, who uses Bankaroo with her second graders. She says Bankaroo is perfect for the classroom economy she’s trying to create because of the way it lets her handle recurring credits and debits, simulating real-life deposits and withdrawals. “The students love logging into their banking account and checking their balances,” Johnson explains. “They often check to make sure [the virtual money] is there and then light up with excitement when they see they were paid.” Johnson also incorporates Bankaroo into her classroom marketplace, with the kids checking how much money they have in their Bankaroo accounts before they spend, complete with the use of a withdrawal slip.

Bankaroo also lets kids set goals related to money. Johnson’s students have worked toward specific money objectives such as buying out their desks, grasping onto the concept of work for pay enough to be asking Johnson for more to do around the classroom. “Bankaroo has helped my students learn about money and responsibility,” she says. “It has helped them become better students and citizens.”

Importantly, Bankaroo is completely free to use. Through both the main website and the mobile app, it is accessible in more than 70 countries and works with several currencies. Already available in English, Hebrew, Romanian, Dutch, Spanish and French, it soon will expand to include Mandarin, German, Italian, Bulgarian and other languages. On top of the regular tool, it also includes a regular weekly blog that parents and educators can use to guide their money discussions and activities.

If you’re interested in using Bankaroo at your school, simply visit http://www.bankaroo.com/ or download the Bankaroo app.

Contributed by: Etay Gafni

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