Awesome Island Game

Burlington, Vt.-The Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy has assumed ownership of "Awesome Island," a personal finance game designed to engage students in the subject. Awesome Games, LLC transferred all ownership rights in the Awesome Island Game to Champlain College's Center for Financial Literacy (CFL) on Oct. 15.

John Pelletier, executive director of the Champlain center, says plans are underway to distribute the award-winning game into more classrooms in Vermont and nationally. He is also hoping to create an online version, which is where most young people are likely to play it, he said.

"We are grateful to Awesome Island creators Brian Page and John Morris for their willingness to share this wonderful idea for teaching personal finance," Pelletier says. "Every teacher I've showed the game to has used it and students love it. The key goal is getting students excited about learning personal finance, and this game achieves that goal."

"Champlain's Center for Financial Literacy is the perfect partner for our game," says Morris, a former professor of economics at the University of Cincinnati. "We know from our initial research that the game engages students of all ages and that they quickly learn personal finance concepts playing the game. We are confident that John Pelletier's center will take Awesome Island to the next level and make it a ubiquitous learning tool in American schools."

Consistent with their goal to distribute Awesome Island to students across the United States, Champlain College's CFL has been selected as one of six finalists in the KeyBank and FreePressMedia's "Build a Stronger Vermont" grant competition that aims to help Vermont nonprofits improve financial literacy and workplace development in the state.
The KeyBank Foundation will award three grants ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 to recipients selected through a public voting process that takes place between November 18 and December 6. For the grant competition, the Champlain CFL proposes to use grant funds to distribute free copies of the Awesome Island game to middle and high schools throughout Vermont.
Awesome Island is designed for students ages 10 to adult and covers all of the recommended personal finance topics, including budgeting, saving, taxes, debt, careers and income, philanthropy and investing. Ultimately, the object of the game is for each student to discover how her or his life choices throughout the game result in which destination she or he can retire, including "Awesome Island," "It's OK Island" and "Everthing's Lame Island." Up to 30 people can play the game simultaneously, which typically takes two hours or two class periods to play. By providing a hands-on experiential learning opportunity, Awesome Island is a fun, yet effective way to begin a unit on financial education in the classroom.

The game won the EIFLE award for National Instructional Game of the Year, Tabletop. Pelletier believes the success of the game is due to the fact that one of the co-creators of the game is a nationally recognized high school personal finance educator. "It takes a great educator to make such a fun and educational game." Brian Page, the game's co-creator, has been recognized by many organizations such as the Dept. of Education in Ohio, the Miliken Institute, National Education Association, Money Magazine (and CNN), and VISA, to name a few. But Page says the best reward has been teachers who tell the him how their students say that playing and learning from the Awesome Island Game was the most fun they had all year.

Vermont residents are encouraged to vote for the Champlain College CFL "Awesome Island" project in the KeyBank and FreePressMedia "Build a Stronger Vermont" competition beginning Nov. 18. Details on how to vote will be available on the CFL and Champlain College website, in the Burlington Free Press, at Vermont KeyBank branch offices, and on the KeyBank Vermont Facebook page.

About the Center for Financial Literacy:
Champlain College's nationally acclaimed, one-of-a-kind financial literacy program hopes to increase knowledge of money matters in classrooms across Vermont, ensure college students graduate with the skills to make sound decisions about spending, credit and investments, and help adults navigate difficult financial situations like buying a home and saving for retirement. The Center for Financial Literacy is a partnership among several financial institutions, non-profit entities and governmental agencies. The Center is designed to promote and develop financial literacy skills in K-12 students, college students, teachers (K-12 and college) and adults. The Center will also advocate for more financial education opportunities at the local, state and national level. The Center has launched a variety of programs aimed at increasing the personal finance sophistication of our citizens. The Center released the 2013 National Report Card, using national data on financial literacy education to grade all 50 states on their efforts to produce financially literate high school graduates. Director John Pelletier of Stowe, is a former chief operating officer and chief legal officer at some of the largest asset management firms in the U. S.