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Open Hands pays participants back

Students earn money learning stewardship

By Ellie Tiemens

This spring, Taylor students will once again have the opportunity to participate in Open Hands, a finance program where they will learn about money while earning money of their own.

Senior Danielle Toren and junior Sarah Bade are participants of the Open Hands finance program.

Senior Danielle Toren and junior Sarah Bade are participants of the Open Hands finance program.

“Open Hands Finance is a six-week personal finance curriculum designed to be run by students, for students,” Rachel Wong, co-developer of the Open Hands curriculum said on her website. “Through a series of small groups, podcasts, and an interactive workbook, students will learn essential financial skills for their upcoming foray into adulthood, all from a Christian perspective of generosity and wise stewardship.”

Through participation in Open Hands, students will learn finance 101 including how to set up a Roth IRA retirement account. Additionally, at the end of the six-week program, students will receive a $100 check to deposit into their financial accounts.

In its fourth semester at Taylor, Open Hands has proven to be beneficial to students looking to learn more about finances and managing money.

Junior Lauren Murphy participated in this program last semester and is now sponsoring a student to participate this semester.

“Looking at money and the future is so overwhelming that it’s tempting to not deal with it at all,” Murphy said. “So I said this would be a good way to just get the groundwork on ‘how do I start saving’ and ‘what do these words mean’ and try to build a foundation on how to be fiscally responsible now instead of when I graduate.”

Josh Meredith, MAHE student and campus ministries graduate assistant, is running the Open Hands program this spring.

As a 2014 Taylor undergraduate, Meredith participated in a similar program his freshman year and understands that managing money can come naturally to some students, but not to others.

“I think it’s important because it’s a discipline that, when created and maintained, can give students — and then future young adults who will be college graduates with jobs and living on their own — the freedom to be wise and biblical stewards with the resources they have been given,” Meredith said.

Two other Taylor graduates, Rachel and Brian Wong (‘11), participated in a program similar to Open Hands while they were students.

They benefited so much from the program they participated in that they decided to create the Open Hands curriculum that Taylor students use today.

“Although neither Brian or I are financial planners, we believe that is actually a strength in reaching this audience because we can relate: we were in their shoes not that long ago,” Wong said.

Meredith encourages participation in this program as students will earn $100 to put into savings just by completing the curriculum, among many other benefits. Students will also become more knowledgeable on how to be biblical stewards with money and will have opened a Roth IRA retirement fund account that will grow each day.

Students participating in Open Hands are divided into small groups led by former Open Hands participants and current Taylor students. Groups will meet for one hour every week for six weeks to complete the course.

“It’s absolutely worth your time,” Meredith said. “You are getting paid to learn about money. That’s a pretty good incentive in and of itself.”

Murphy agreed saying that simply dedicating one hour a week to the program will allow students to reap the benefits later on in life.

Students have until Monday, Feb. 25 to sign up for the Spring 2019 Open Hands program. They can email josh_meredith@taylor.edu with more questions or to register. This program will continue running in future semesters for additional student participation.

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