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Students Bank Loans Money to
Start Businesses




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Grades 2-up

News Content

Some U.S. students are helping poor women build businesses that improve their families lives.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students to point out the location of Latin America on a world map. Latin America refers to those territories in the Americas where the Spanish or Portuguese languages prevail: Mexico, most of Central and South America, plus Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico are often included when references are made to Latin America.

You might ask students to locate on the map the five Latin American countries that are participants in the microbank program they will learn about in this weeks news story: Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: business, debate, low-income, poverty, tortilla, and participate. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • The roller-coaster economy means more and more people are being forced to live in _____. (poverty)
  • Will you be able to _____ in the telethon on Saturday night? (participate)
  • The two candidates for mayor will _____ the issues on November 17. (debate)
  • The new bakery will open for _____ in a few months. (business)
  • Pablo ordered a _____ and two tacos. (tortilla)
  • The city is creating 100 new jobs to help improve the lives of its _____ citizens. (low-income)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Students Bank Loans Money to Start Businesses.

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • The Meadows School is a private PreK-12 school in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Justin Blau came up with the microbank idea as he prepared for a debate on the topic, What is the best way for the United States to address public health crises in Sub-Saharan Africa? Blau told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper, While Im researching, Im saying to myself, Im trying to find solutions to these problems for a debate; why not try to do something in real life?"
  • Loans of the kind that Blau and his classmates are making are generally too small and unprofitable for large banks to make. It costs a large bank more than it is worth to set up, or initiate, such loans.
  • The students expect to make their first micro-loans" in the next few months. They plan to loan money through Pro Mujer, a nonprofit organization that aids poor female entrepreneurs. With branches in Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru, Pro Mujer believes that the empowerment of women is the most effective way to alleviate poverty." The organization has inspired many women and generated many success stories. Pro Mujer is modeled after a bank in Bangladesh (Grameen Bank), the founder of which won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Pro Mujer will distribute more than $140 million in loans this year; the average loan will be $236. Borrowers repay the loans over time with interest, which, in turn, helps support other borrowers.
  • The students who comprise the Meadows MicroBank team had discussed lending money to residents of their local community, but after learning more about the desperate conditions of the poor -- especially children -- in developing countries, they decided to think and act globally.
  • In addition to the $20,000 raised by students, an anonymous donor has pledged $5,000 to the Meadows MicroBank. The students hope to raise more than $100,000 within four years.
  • According to Wikipedia, microfinancing refers to a movement that envisions a world in which as many poor and near-poor households as possible have permanent access to an appropriate range of high quality financial services, including not just credit but also savings, insurance, and fund transfers." Microbanks are one type of institution that offers such resources.
  • At Trent Lott Middle School (Pascagoula, Mississippi), students work on a different community service project each month. Septembers project, Paws for a Cause, culminated in a pet walk that raised money for the local humane society. In the months ahead students will organize a food drive for local food banks (November); collect toys for Toys for Tots and make retirement home visits (December); support U.S. troops (January); and raise funds for the American Heart Association (February). Although middle school students love school dances and other fun activities, they also enjoy helping others," Michele Brasher, a teacher at the school, told The Mississippi Press.

    Comprehension Check

    Recalling Detail

  • What is a microbank? (A microbank is one that will give out small loans to help low-income people make their way out of poverty.)
  • Why did Justin Blau decide to start a microbank at his school? (Accept reasoned responses, for example, he wanted to do something to help poor people.)
  • What size loans will The Meadows School MicroBank give out? (Loans will be in the neighborhood of a few hundred dollars or fewer.)
  • In which countries will the school bank make its loans? (In Latin American countries, for example, Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru)
  • What kinds of things can poor women buy with the money loaned to them by microbanks? (equipment and supplies that will help them start a business -- things such as sewing machines, farm animals, cooking supplies)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this question. If you use this strategy

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the question.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about ways in which they might make a difference in their community or other places.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Geography maps. Provide students with an outline map of North and South America. Have them label and color the five countries to which The Meadows School MicroBank (through Pro Mujer) will fund loans: Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru. In addition, you might have them label other countries.

    Math calculating interest. Introduce students to the concept of interest. Explain that when people borrow money to buy a car, home, or anything else, they are almost always charged interest. They will pay back over time all the money borrowed plus the established amount of interest. For example, if someone borrows

    $1,000 at 5 percent interest for one year
    they will pay a total of
    $1,000 + ($1,000 x .05) =
    $1,000 + ($50.00) =
    over the life of the loan.
    Share with students this simple interest calculator, a free online tool that they can use to calculate interest. Provide problems for them to solve using the calculator. For example, you might ask them to calculate the interest on a 5-year car loan in the amount of $10,000, borrowed at an interest rate of 5 percent. If you teach older students, you might extend this activity by using this Simple Interest lesson plan from (free registration required).

    Foreign language numbers. Teach students the Spanish words for the numbers 1 through 10. (This resource provides both the numbers and pronunciations.) Then pose simple math problems (for example, 6 + 3 = ? or 8 2 = ?) and challenge students to give their answers in Spanish.


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.10 Applying Non-English Perspectives
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    LANGUAGE ARTS: Foreign Language
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-FL.K-12.2 Cultures

    MATHEMATICS: Number and Operations
    GRADES Pre-K - 2
    NM-NUM.PK-2.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
    NM-NUM.PK-2.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
    GRADES 3 - 5
    NM-NUM.3-5.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
    NM-NUM.3-5.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
    GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-NUM.6-8.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
    NM-NUM.6-8.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-NUM.9-12.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
    NM-NUM.9-12.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another

    MATHEMATICS: Problem Solving
    GRADES Pre-K - 12
    NM-PROB.PK-12.2 Solve Problems That Arise in Mathematics and in Other Contexts

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen

    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Economics
    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-EC.K-4.1 Productive Resources
    NSS-EC.K-4.2 Effective Decision Making
    NSS-EC.K-4.9 Competition in the Marketplace
    NSS-EC.K-4.10 Market Institutions
    NSS-EC.K-4.11 Money
    NSS-EC.K-4.12 Interest Rates
    NSS-EC.K-4.13 Income and Earning
    NSS-EC.K-4.14 Entrepreneurs
    NSS-EC.K-4.15 Investment
    NSS-EC.K-4.16 Government in the Economy
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-EC.5-8.1 Productive Resources
    NSS-EC.5-8.2 Effective Decision Making
    NSS-EC.5-8.9 Competition in the marketplace
    NSS-EC.5-8.10 Market Institutions
    NSS-EC.5-8.11 Money
    NSS-EC.5-8.12 Interest Rates
    NSS-EC.5-8.13 Income and Earning
    NSS-EC.5-8.14 Entrepreneurs
    NSS-EC.5-8.15 Investment
    NSS-EC.5-8.16 Government in the Economy
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-EC.9-12.1 Productive Resources
    NSS-EC.9-12.2 Effective Decision Making
    NSS-EC.9-12.9 Competition in the Marketplace
    NSS-EC.9-12.10 Market Institutions
    NSS-EC.9-12.11 Money
    NSS-EC.9-12.12 Interest Rates
    NSS-EC.9-12.13 Income and Earning
    NSS-EC.9-12.14 Entrepreneurs
    NSS-EC.9-12.15 Investment
    NSS-EC.9-12.16 Government in the Economy

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms

    GRADES K - 12
    NT.K-12.6 Technology Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Tools

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2008 Education World