DEEP 2023 – Delbarton Economic Education Program


Sean Fialcowitz, Staff Writer

In school, students learn about history, math and English, but what about learning how to support themselves financially? All around the country schools often overlook the importance of financial literacy, leaving graduates unable to do simple tasks like creating smart goals and budget plans. In 1991, Delbarton began DEEP, short for the Delbarton Economic Education Program, to partner with Catholic Charities in Paterson to teach young people from grades 8 to 12 to be financially literate. The program typically runs on Mondays and Wednesdays each April.

 During the DEEP program, Delbarton student volunteers cover the basics of financial literacy in seven sessions.  Session One introduces students to the concept of financial goals and why they are important. The second session dives into the time value of money, interest rates and how interest rates impact the future value of money. Session Three reviews various types of investments and investing strategies, while Session Four covers credit cards, debit cards and credit scores. Sessions Five and Six review various financial concepts such as inflation, budgets and student loans. Finally, the seventh session requires students to take the knowledge learned in the prior sessions to analyze current economic events. While prepping for the lessons, Delbarton students learned valuable lessons of how to teach. Senior Brandon Low led the DEEP Day Five team, and believes that the key to teaching is being enthusiastic, saying, “Make sure you bring energy and excitement to the lesson! A lot of the kids can be shy, especially around us as high schoolers, but once you are able to break down that “nervous wall,” the entire experience becomes so much more rewarding and gratifying.” Delbarton teams also prepared activities to accompany the lessons, so that the students could apply the concepts they learned. Teams of Delbarton students worked together to create immersive presentations to help the students become financially literate and independent when they grow up.

 On April 3, 2023, I experienced DEEP first-hand when I traveled to the Father English Center in Paterson for the first session. Our team, consisting of Faculty Advisor Thomas Brady and students Collin Pryma, Nick Mihalko, James Weidner and myself, taught the Paterson students how to set goals using the S.M.A.R.T. acronym, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. The students then made their own economic and fun goals.

We also introduced the 50/30/20 budget rule, which states that 50% of your income goes to your needs, 30% to your wants, and 20% to your long and short term savings. The students used monopoly money to create their own budget plans. Brandon Low recounted what he loves the most about the program, saying, “Getting to participate with the kids directly while teaching them important life lessons about personal finance has been the best part for me. Being able to give these kids the chance to learn about financial literacy through a fun, interactive lesson for an hour gives us a lot of freedom as students to come up with creative presentations and activities.” DEEP continues to help students in Paterson become financially independent through the hard work of Mr. Brady and the student volunteers.