Student Essays Win Financial Literacy Scholarships from Kansas Securities Commissioner

Three participants in Jobs for Americas’ Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) programs were announced Wednesday as winners of a financial literacy essay contest sponsored by the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner, a division of the Kansas Insurance Department.

Kansas’ 104 JAG-K programs, which serve more than 5,500 students in 49 school districts across the state, reports a graduation rate of 97 percent over the past five years. One of the responsibilities of JAG-K is the instruction of sound financial management to its participants, many of whom come from low-income families.

The Securities division works to protect Kansas citizens by creating awareness of fraudulent activity in the securities industry and by assisting the Kansas Attorney General in identifying and prosecuting fraud.  The Securities division is partnering with student development organizations like JAG-K to support and promote financial literacy programs throughout the state.

The Kansas Insurance Department donated $20,000 to help support JAG-K’s efforts to teach important financial concepts to the students in the program. Half of the donated funds were designated for a financial literacy essay contest in which the top three JAG-K student essays would split a share of $10,000 in scholarship funds.

Kansas Securities Commissioner Dan Klucas announced the scholarship winners at the JAG-K Career Development Conference hosted at McPherson College. The scholarship winners included:

1st Place, $5,000 – Karina Martinez, Kiowa County High School

2nd Place, $3,000 – Raygan Heft, Kiowa County High School

3rd Place, $2,000 – Ashley Reddig, Great Bend High School

Pictured (left to right) Chuck Knapp, JAG-K President and CEO; Karina Martinez, Kiowa County High School, Raygan Heft, Kiowa County High School; Ashley Reddig, Great Bend High School; Dan Klucas, Kansas Securities Commissioner.

“The winning essays displayed a firm understanding of critical financial concepts, particularly a demonstration of prudent investing practices,” said Kansas Insurance Commissioner Vicki Schmidt. “The essays show that JAG-K students are obtaining practical money skills that will serve them well in adulthood.”

The three students will now have the opportunity to compete against winners of financial literacy competitions representing two other Kansas organizations for the chance to win an additional $5,000, $3,000, or $2,000.

Martinez claimed the financial literacy essay competition for the second consecutive year. Last year, she also won the competition between the three organizations. Thus the least Martinez will win from the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner is $17,000.

JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 6-12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model.

The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 38 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, EagleU, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, the JB and Anne Hodgdon Foundation, John Deere, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Gas Service, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Royals Charities, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation, the City of Topeka, United Way of the Plains and Walmart.

To learn more about JAG-K, visit, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.