The Freestate ChalleNGe Academy’s motto is, “Dream. Believe.
Achieve.” This five-and-a-half-month
volunteer residential program for at risk Maryland youth is a tuition free
transformative opportunity for those that have dropped out of high school
between the ages of 16 and 18.
From December 3rd to the 4th, the
cadets from Class 51 participated in a financial management exercise sponsored
by the Aberdeen Proving Ground Federal Credit Union and the Maryland Defense
Force (MDDF) called “Mad City Money.”
This initiative aims to teach the cadets some basic budgeting and
financial literacy skills and was held at the Edgewood Armory - Aberdeen
At the beginning of the exercise each cadet was given a job
description and a corresponding monthly income.
Next, the cadets built a monthly budget based upon everyday expenses. In addition, each cadet was provided with a “checkbook
and a debit card” with which they could make “purchases” at different stations
within Mad City. Cadets had to make
decisions on how much to spend but they were required to make a purchase at
each station. The stations included
Housing & Utilities, Transportation, Food, Entertainment and
Furniture. There were also stations for
Clothing and Children. The cadets had to
navigate between wants and needs while setting aside money for savings, credit
card payments and an emergency fund.
After the exercise, the cadets compared their initial budget
to their actual budget after making purchases and discussed smart financial
management takeaways with the instructors.
MDDF personnel worked the Clothing, Furniture and Transportation
stations at the “Mad City Mall.” “We
served as salespersons and walked the cadets through the different options that
they could make when it came to spending their money. They could purchase expensive and fashionable
clothing, purchase beautiful furniture for their home and the nicest cars at
our stations. However, those that
followed this path blew through their budgets pretty quickly. The process also helped the cadets think
through what was really important to them when it came to making big
purchases,” shared Maj. (MDDF) Frederick Sanford who served as the MDDF task
“There were some significant trade-offs that the cadets had
to analyze during the exercise,” commented Sgt. First Class (MDDF) Douglas Rike
who manned the Clothing station called “My Closet.” For some of the cadets, being fashionable was
really important but for others it wasn’t.
I could tell that during the process the cadets were starting to better
understand the financial impact of the decisions that they were making while
navigating through each station,” he continued.
“I think that over the course of the last two days, the cadets have
become better prepared to make financial decisions in the years to come,” Sgt.
First Class (MDDF) Rike concluded.
Brig. Gen. (MDDF) Lorenza Cooper, commanding general of the
MDDF added, “The ChalleNGe Academy program is very important to the State of
Maryland and we are proud to play a key role in its success. The program graduates are given the tools
with which they can become successful adults and productive members of society. This is extremely important work.”
The Maryland Defense Force (MDDF)
is the State’s uniformed volunteer militia unit providing competent,
supplementary, professional and technical support and soldiers to the Maryland
Military Department and the State of Maryland as needed. Established in 1917,
the MDDF consists of nearly 200 personnel who perform legal, engineering,
finance, medical, chaplain, field support and ceremonial services for the State
of Maryland. For more information: www.mddf.maryland.gov.
Maryland Defense Force Headquarters
5600 Rue Saint Lo Dr. - Miller Building 202, Reisterstown, MD 21136