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Gallagher Announces Southeast Florida Winners in Contest Promoting Financial Literacy among Teens


Tami Torres
(850) 413-2842   
TALLAHASSEE—Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher today announced the names of three students who were the top picks in an essay contest aimed at encouraging financial literacy among middle and high school students. 
The contest, "Cash in on Your Money Smarts," asked students, ages 14 to 18, to submit at least a 750-word essay on why they considered themselves money smart and offered students a chance at more than $7,500 in prizes statewide.  First, second and third place prizes are being awarded to teens in five geographic regions, for a total of 15 winners statewide.  Nearly 600 students participated this year.
"This essay contest was a great way to encourage Florida's young people to show off their financial knowledge and writing skills, and reward them for it," Gallagher said.  "Learning these valuable skills now will pave the way for a lifetime of financial success."
The winners named today represent one (Region 5) of the five regions that competed in the contest.  Region 5 covered a nine-county area, including Okeechobee, St.Lucie, Martin, Glades, Hendry, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe.  The winners are:
First Place: Avi Leavitt, 17, just completed 11th grade at West Boca Community High School in Boca Raton

Second Place: Brian Lee, 16, just completed 11th grade at Coral Reef Senior High School in Miami

Third Place: Jake Rothstein, 16, just completed 11th grade at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in Miami
First, second and third place winners will receive $750, $500 and $250 respectively.  The winning essays can be read at Cash in on your Money Smarts Essays.
The essay contest is part of Gallagher's statewide public education initiative, Your Money, Your Life, which is designed to help Floridians of all ages and income levels avoid debt and build assets, including savings, investing and home ownership.  Gallagher started the program last fall in response to a survey reporting that many Floridians put themselves at financial risk by waiting too late to save and by running up debt. 
Judging the contest were representatives from the Florida Council on Economic Education, a non-profit organization that supports financial education initiatives in schools and businesses statewide.  In addition, department employees Fred Varn and Greg Thomas, who serve on their area school boards, participated in the judging process.
Gallagher said he plans to hold another essay contest for teens this fall and will pose a question that encourages teens to research and creatively invest $100,000.
Financial support for the "Cash in on Your Money Smarts" essay contest is provided by a grant from the Investor Protection Trust (IPT).  The IPT is a nonprofit organization devoted to investor education. Since 1993, the IPT has worked with the States to provide the independent, objective investor education needed by all Americans to make informed investment decisions. Their website is