As MoneySKILL Mania goes virtual, local high school students learn personal finance

Release Date: May 20, 2020

“Personal finance skills are especially important for young people. MoneySKILL exposes students to real-life situations and requires them to think critically and use reasoning. ”
Emily Frishholz, Business Teacher
City Honors School

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With experts warning that today’s staggering unemployment may lead to a prolonged recession, financial literacy is more important than ever.

That’s why the University at Buffalo School of Management and M&T Bank have partnered—since 2006—to help local high school students develop critical personal finance skills through the free MoneySKILL® program and the annual MoneySKILL Mania competition.

“From choosing a university to establishing a credit profile, these students are at a critical point in their financial lives,” says Cynthia Shore, senior assistant dean and director of alumni engagement and external relations at the UB School of Management. “This year, as teachers shifted to remote instruction due to the coronavirus, we wanted to support their efforts to teach personal finance—and help students have fun with some friendly competition—by taking MoneySKILL Mania virtual.”

Mania is a quiz show-style competition that tests students’ proficiency with concepts they’ve learned through the online MoneySKILL curriculum, offered by the American Financial Services Association (AFSA) Education Foundation. The late Lewis Mandell, former professor of finance in the School of Management, wrote the original curriculum, which has since reached more than 1 million students across all 50 states and 40 countries.

Locally, the UB School of Management and M&T Bank partner to sponsor the MoneySKILL Mania competition and a series of undergraduate honors student projects at local nonprofits, all to help Western New Yorkers improve their financial literacy.

“Personal finance skills are especially important for young people so they are prepared to make responsible decisions that will have an impact on the rest of their lives,” says Emily Frishholz, business teacher at City Honors School in Buffalo. “MoneySKILL exposes students to real-life situations and requires them to think critically and use reasoning.”

Frishholz was among the teachers in three Western New York counties who hosted the Mania competition as part of their remote instruction this spring.

For some teachers, MoneySKILL complements their existing curriculum; for others, it serves as enrichment material to infuse additional money management topics into their class. Frishholz says MoneySKILL helps to reinforce concepts in her differentiated business course for students with autism, and helps her weave new topics into another business class that wouldn’t normally cover personal finance.

At Buffalo’s Hutchinson Central Technical High School, retired 1st Sgt. Stephen Frazier has been a longtime supporter of MoneySKILL, using the online program and playing Mania each year with his Hutch-Tech Junior ROTC cadets. This year, he went even bigger—playing MoneySKILL Mania on Kahoot!, a game-based learning platform, with cadets from schools around New York State and in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

“When our building closed, I lined up two speakers every week to give what we now call Tech Talks,” Frazier says. In these sessions, his former students, now ages 24-34, routinely brought up financial responsibility. “Almost every speaker acknowledged the value of the financial skills they gained as a cadet—including retirement, savings, student loans, insurance and investing—and how they have applied them to their life today.”

Meanwhile, Cassandra Bold, a mathematics and special education teacher at Olean High School, uses the online MoneySKILL modules with her financial algebra class and hosted Mania this year via the Zoom videoconference platform.

“For students, it’s very important for their future to be aware of the topics covered in MoneySKILL,” Bold says. “My students enjoy doing the MoneySKILL modules. They normally do well on them, and they help boost their grades. I mean, what student doesn’t love a grade boost?”

The American Financial Services Association (AFSA) Education Foundation ( is focused on educating consumers of all ages on personal finance concepts and helping them realize the benefits of responsible money management, understand the credit process and seek help if credit problems occur. The foundation’s online personal finance course, MoneySKILL®, is available in English and Spanish at no cost and includes content in the areas of income, expenses, saving and investing, credit and insurance.

M&T Bank Corp. is a financial holding company headquartered in Buffalo. M&T's principal banking subsidiary, M&T Bank, operates banking offices in New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Trust-related services are provided by M&T's Wilmington Trust-affiliated companies and by M&T Bank.

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit

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Matthew Biddle
Assistant Director of Communications
School of Management