MDDF Supports Freestate ChalleNGe Academy’s Mad City Money Ini​tiativ​​e 

Mad City Money 1.jpgThe 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 Proving Ground. 

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 force leader.    

“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:​​​​

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