FMA was formed in the wake of 9/11. As fear, financial crisis, and personal loss swept across our country, Ken and Lorraine Decker believed that this was the best time to focus on the needs of families who would never receive objective, quality advice, and planning.
Prior to 9/11, the Deckers had worked together for decades proving employer-sponsored financial, career, and estate planning workshops across the United States and in 47 other countries. They had achieved their financial goals and instead of living abroad, their “bucket list” became underserved Americans. They believed that hardworking families, with objective advice and planning, not financial handouts, could find their paths for achieving success and their unique American Dream in a land of opportunity.
With this firmly held belief as their driving force, the Deckers launched two non-profits: Skills For Living, which focused on adult financial education; and Financial Mentors of America, dedicated to under-served young adults wanting guidance on real life goal setting, preparation, and planning.
Before the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Deckers have been recognized by various organizations and have won numerous awards recognizing their experience and achievements in designing financial education to achieve measurable and meaningful outcomes:
- Virginia Tech University award for Life Cycle Models for Financial Planning
- World at Work, author of Financial Education, its role as a company benefit
- The Purpose Prize of $100,000 for financial education programs
- FDIC Chairman’s Award for Financial Education
Every summer since 2007, FMA and S4L would organize the Game of Real Life, a three-week event held at Rice, University of Houston, and the George R. Brown Convention Center helping 1,200 under-served high school students visualize a dynamic future and find a path out of poverty.
FMA engaged with thousands of Texas high school students through Real Life Financial Mathematics (RLFM). Starting in September 2017, classrooms were supported by career mentors sharing their real-life experiences with students. Teachers also attended professional development workshops at Rice University. To expand the impact of financial education, the Deckers and volunteers spent April and May of 2019 with Texas legislators conferencing on the value of mandating financial education for high school graduation and offering college courses in financial, career, and college planning.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Teachers were given assistance on transitioning from classroom to remote learning. RLFM is uniquely designed for independent real life learning and critical thinking. Currently both teachers and students are struggling with applying methodology which challenges critical thinking and requires students to accept responsibility for their education and future. Decades of instruction focused on memorization and repetition have not prepared students for remote learning and thinking, yet both skills will be mandated for the New Normal.
FMA is encouraging teachers to identify exceptional students who have risen to the thinking challenge and want to change the world. FMA will support their mastery of financial, planning, and thinking skills through zoom meetings with volunteers. The counseling is intense. Results are measured as the foundation is laid for exceptional long-term outcomes.
The public is encouraged to nominate young adults, aged 16 to 26, who have a relentless desire to change the world.