Cal State Fullerton theater alumnus Tim Alexander started an annual financial literacy-themed musical production at the university four years ago as a student, and now the show is going on the road.
Beginning this summer and into the fall, CSUF’s College of the Arts – in conjunction with the university’s Division of Student Affairs and Bank of America – will present “#MoneyM@tter$” to local high schools and middle schools.
The 35-minute musical theater production – performed by CSUF students – focuses on financial literacy and educating students on how to make wise money decisions.
Bank of America recently awarded a $20,000 grant to CSUF for the program.
“#MoneyM@tter$” presents its audience with scenarios about students at economic crossroads. Topics include identity theft, debt, online safety, financial aid, credit card responsibility and how to budget and save, among other topics.
Following each musical performance, a Bank of America financial adviser will give a presentation about financial wellness, as well as the various resources and tools available to students through Bank of America. Advisers then will hold a Q&A forum.
Alexander, who works at CSUF’s University Advancement, is involved in the production.
His previous “Rent: A Financial Literacy Spectacular” musical production promoted financial literacy through songs like “What You Own,” “Will I” and “Rent” adapted with lyrics that focused on financial literacy.
“The platform of musical theater can really lend itself to be an engaging vehicle to tell stories,” said CSUF Dean of the College of the Arts Dale Merrill.
“I think it is a great opportunity because not only does it bring art to schools, but it also brings an important topic,” he said.
Also, because the production is presented by college students, younger students are more likely to listen and consider the message, Merrill said.
Over the past four years, Bank of America has provided $80,000 in grant funding to CSUF for its financial wellness program.
“We are going to take this show on the road, which is beneficial not only for the community, but Cal State Fullerton students,” said Shari Battle, Bank of America senior vice president and market manager. Battle presented the grant to CSUF officials June 1.
“What is different this year is they realized how engaging and unique this production really is and what it could really do for not only students at Cal State Fullerton, but middle school and high school students throughout Orange County,” Battle said.
The production provides CSUF theater and dance students with the opportunity to perform in front of different audiences, she said.
All cast members additionally became well-versed in the financial literacy issues that are prominent in the production.
“The whole point (of the production) is to empower students to make better financial decisions,” Battle said. The production tour is expected to kick off in Laguna Beach and Santa Ana schools.
“#MoneyM@tter$” was written by CSUF professor of theater Eve Himmelheber.