Coastal Association of REALTORS® (MD) Uses Housing Opportunity Grant to Promote K-12 Financial Literacy

Coastal Association of REALTORS® (MD) Uses Housing Opportunity Grant to Promote K-12 Financial Literacy

October 2023

On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the Coastal Association of REALTORS® is committed to ensuring that students in the local school systems have a leg up on the financial literacy and career knowledge they need to stay in the region and lead prosperous lives.  The association has partnered with Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore, sponsoring an ‘Inspired by Experience’ storefront to house activities for both its BizTown and Finance Park programs.  A Housing Opportunity Grant from the REALTOR® Party is helping to make it possible.

The 1,100-member association made a $75K three-year commitment to Junior Achievement, which has just completed building a 25K SF facility in Salisbury, Maryland that will centralize financial education for K-12 students across the Eastern Shore.  In addition to the REALTOR® Party Housing Opportunity Grant the Coastal Association contributed funds of its own, and received support from its local MLS, the Maryland Association of REALTORS®, and sixteen brokers and affiliate members.

AE Bernie Flax credits the association’s Past President, Grace Masten, who cheerfully accepted the challenge of raising $75K, and the whole board, whose total support will be a powerful legacy to hand forward: “This is a very big deal.  The Junior Achievement program operates mostly in metropolitan areas, so we’re lucky they are here at all, and partnering with them gives us the power to leverage our resources much further than if we were acting alone.  When the students in this program graduate from high school, they’ll have a real-world understanding of a multitude of career paths and be equipped to make good financial decisions.  That leads to more prosperous individuals, families, and communities.”

As partners, the REALTORS® will operate a ‘storefront’ in the new facility’s mock town, serving over 12,000 students annually from the nine counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  The REALTORS® have helped to craft a curriculum for their storefront focusing on financial literacy, homebuying, and careers in the real estate industry.  If all goes as planned, students will visit the facility at least twice during their schooling.

Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore provides learning experiences that align with national and state standards, and its curriculum is proven to increase students’ knowledge of topics related to personal finance, work and career-readiness, and entrepreneurship. The age-appropriate programs are designed to introduce these concepts to young children.  This is because, notes Flax, “Once students are in 11th-12th grade, their financial interests might be limited to making car payments.  If we can catch their attention before that point, we can give them a bigger picture with bigger goals, such as the benefits of homeownership, and what it means for a family’s wealth.  We want them to internalize, ‘Hey – if I take a nickel out of every dollar, then when I’m 60…’”  To keep the goal of homeownership top-of-mind, students visiting the REALTOR® storefront are given cool branded rubber bracelets declaring, ‘Coastal REALTORS® predict I’m a future homeowner.’

The REALTOR® team shopped locally to furnish its storefront space with a homey atmosphere that is conducive to serious learning:  a long farmhouse table, a large rug, a vintage fireplace surround (found on the side of the road!) and a dresser and trunk for storing materials.  Participating brokerages have chipped in additional branded swag, from flashlights to mini footballs, for use in the interactive lessons on commerce and the economy.

The storefront welcomed its first students at a soft opening in late September and looks forward to the facility’s grand opening on October 30th.

Flax says the association is immensely grateful for the REALTOR® Party’s support and believes that their efforts will set up the next generation of Eastern Shore residents for success: “Together, with the support of passionate volunteers, mentors, and advocates, we can make a profound impact on the lives of young people and shape a brighter future for and in our local communities.”

To learn more about how the Coastal Association of REALTORS® is helping to prepare future generations with training in financial literacy, contact Bernie Flax, Association Executive, at or 410.641.4409.

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