Two in one week! A second NGPF Fellow, Charles Kafoglis, has submitted a guest blog spot, and we’re happy to have it. Charles is a teacher at an all-girls Catholic school in Houston, TX — Incarnate Word Academy — and they’ve got a really unique leadership model that weaves throughout their entire school culture and course curricula. Charles shares that outlook, as it pertains to the personal finance class he teaches, as well as two interesting videos, in the guest post below:

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What is the point of Financial Literacy?

In the wonderful documentary Spent (a Next Gen classic), 4 stories of financial woe are told. These are stories of bad choices, the negative impact of student debt, and just plain misfortune. It is easy to see financial literacy as knowledge and awareness to help us make better long term financial choices and avoid the debilitating grip of being controlled by past choices. However, financial literacy is more than avoiding the negative, but also unlocking the greatness each of us has within.

In our school, every student takes at least one leadership course and most take 2 or 3. We propose that everyone has a role now and in the future as an “authentic, bold servant leader”. The keyword in our leadership identity and model is servant. A servant is someone who leverages their power and influence, not for themselves, but to empower others. Our students learn a leadership methodology and then apply it to service learning projects or entrepreneurial endeavors. The journey to be the best authentic, bold servant leader we can be takes a lifetime. We may never reach the destination but it is the journey which continually inspires us to seek purpose and meaning our own lives by serving others.

In our professional lives we see this journey as the quest to work in areas that are at the intersection of our passion, talent, and community need/market demand (see Exhibit). The Ted talk by Scott Dinsmore illustrates this. So, where does financial literacy play a role?

Adam Carroll, in a powerful podcast called the Four Legacies, tells a story of how financial literacy can lead to financial freedom. Financial freedom means many things to different people. In Adam’s context, financial freedom is the foundation of the next three legacies. Financial freedom can lead to time freedom. The freedom to decide how we each spend our time doing things we WANT to do and not things we HAVE do is incredibly empowering. When money issues control our lives and we must do only the things we have to do to get to the next paycheck or make the next debt payment…and the things I want to do are delayed and delayed. So financial freedom leads to time freedom. What to do with the time?

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As servant leaders, we follow the path to the next two legacies – relationship freedom and service freedom. We now have the financial and time freedom to build relationships to engage the community and truly serve in an impactful way. If we are called to be authentic, bold servant leaders, then having financial flexibility gives us the opportunity to follow our passions and apply our talents within areas of great need. (see exhibit )

There are so many examples of individuals who followed a dream to become a teacher, form or join a non-profit, to provide disaster aid to those in need, to adopt a child or provide a scholarship, and on and on. While ample financial means is never necessary to becoming a servant leader, it sure helps when your dream is large and the need is great. So, view financial literacy as not just knowledge and awareness to make smarter money decisions and avoid pitfalls, but as the fuel to propel your desire to serve others as a future authentic, bold servant leader in your community.

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Thank you, Charles, for contributing to our online community!