Peavy helps kids gain financial literacy skills

Through Focus Forward program, former All-Star pitcher provides students with valuable learning tools

June 6th, 2017

BOSTON -- In 2015, two-time World Series champion pitcher -- along with fellow MLB pitcher Roy Oswalt and NFL quarterback Mark Sanchez -- was defrauded of more than $15 million in a Ponzi-like investment scheme. Now Peavy is drawing from that experience to help children across America improve their financial literacy.

On Tuesday at the Eliot Innovation School in Boston, Peavy visited with the first 50 students to complete the Jake Peavy Foundation Focus Forward program, a financial education course powered by EverFi and designed to empower young people with the essential skills needed to make sound financial decisions. Peavy, who won the first of his World Series titles in Boston, spoke to the students, aided them in a game of financial Jeopardy! and also signed autographs and posed for pictures with the 2013 World Series trophy.

"Financial literacy became part of my story," Peavy said. "As you get older in life, you want to recognize the platform you've been given. It has not been a fun topic at times for me, and financial literacy is not the most glamorous way of giving back when there are so many people doing so many wonderful things, but financial literacy is something I'm passionate about and truly believe makes a difference in these young peoples' lives."

According to a study done by EverFi, nine of 10 parents talk to their children about money, but only half of those parents feel they know what they're talking about when bringing it up.

"In order to fill that gap, we as an organization want to provide this program to students to lay a foundation so they can build their skills and knowledge within their own schools at no cost to taxpayers or the school system," said Sarah Lauren Allen, executive director of the Jake Peavy Foundation. "The program teaches them about responsible money choices, income and careers, insurance, saving and investing. We want to help kids understand how money works so they can jump-start their futures."

Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina and Massachusetts Representative Aaron Michlewitz, who is chairman of the Joint Committee on Financial Services, also spoke to students and expressed the importance of the Focus Forward curriculum.

"I'm really impressed that the Jake Peavy Foundation is focusing on people who are younger, because that's when we need to start developing those skills -- so we have them when we're older," Michlewitz said. "It's important to understand that balancing a budget and keeping money straight is important."

Peavy told students a story about his grandfather, whom he often played baseball with as a boy. When Peavy would make a mistake, his grandfather would stress the importance of paying attention to what he was doing in the moment.

"He would say, 'Focus, Jake, you have to focus,'" Peavy recalled. "'When you do anything in life, you have to focus on what you're doing.' And it stuck with me. I'd be out in the middle of Fenway Park and the Yankees would have runners everywhere, and I would think, 'Focus, boy, focus on what you're doing.' And then you can do a better job. Life isn't always great, but it's all about how we react to things. Think about the past to learn, but move forward."

That, Peavy said, is where the program name "Focus Forward" came from.

Focus Forward is a three-hour software program divided into 10 modules that are flexible and easily integrated into teachers' lesson plans. It can be used in school or as a homework assignment, and it uses real-life situations to teach children to be responsible with money.

The program will deploy in Boston, San Diego, San Francisco and Mobile, Ala. -- three MLB cities where Peavy played, along with his hometown -- this fall. It will serve 20 schools and approximately 1,000 students. Peavy and his foundation's leaders hope to expand the program to students of all ages -- as well as to MLB players -- in the near future.

"Now that we have created the program, we can easily scale it and implement it with different age groups and audiences," Allen said. "With EverFi's innovation, technology and ability to connect with local schools all over the country, we look forward to all we are going to be able to accomplish together."

EverFi is a leading education technology company that provides learners of all ages education for the real world through innovative and scalable digital learning. EverFi's Software-as-a-Service subscription model has over 16 million users and boasts investors such as Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Twitter founder Evan Williams.

Peavy, a three-time All-Star and the 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner, founded the 501(c)(3) Jake Peavy Foundation in 2012. It supports sports, music and financial literacy programs that transform the lives of young people, particularly those in underserved and at-risk communities across America.