Financial Education

Who Wants to be a Bazillionaire? Greenlight’s game show hits the road

  • 3 out of 4 teachers in the country report that students rarely or never learn about personal finance.
  • Greenlight and Marketplace's Million Bazillion podcast are touring the US with a game show that will teach middle schoolers about personal finance.

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Who Wants to be a Bazillionaire? Greenlight’s game show hits the road

Starting your financial journey early literally pays off in America. But 3 out of 4 teachers in the country report that students rarely or never learn about personal finance. Which means that most students not only miss opportunities to learn about finance and save money early, but are also ill-prepared for the financial decisions they will face once they start to lead independent lives. 

Family banking app Greenlight has multiple financial products aimed at younger generations and their families, like the financial literacy game Level Up and teen debit cards. The company has also partnered with a children and family-focused financial literacy podcast Million Bazillion by Marketplace from its first season, renewing its partnership with the Webby-winning series for 5 seasons. The podcast is hosted by Bridget Bodnar, senior producer for Marketplace’s podcast and Ryan Perez, who has a penchant for comedy and has previously written for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live. Together the pair explain complex financial topics like recessions and insurances through a comedic, story-based format. 

Greenlight has now launched its “Million Bazillion Live! Who Wants to be a Bazillionaire?” tour,  which will bring financial education in a game show format to middle schools in 20 cities across the country. 

Million Bazillion Live! Who Wants to be a Bazillionaire?

The Million Bazillion Live! tour will kick off in the East Coast with two, ten-week long programs. The first leg of the tour will visit multiple middle schools on the East Coast, touring cities like Austin, Kansas City, and Dallas with a 30-minute game show where students can win prizes by correctly answering questions about financial matters. The second leg of the tour will begin in spring 2024 in the West Coast. 

The Million Bazillion podcast team is in charge of hosting the game show. “It's a very modern take on an important topic where kids will compete and win prizes. All while learning about core money topics,” said Jennifer Seitz, Greenlight’s director of education. 

A picture of the game show, where a kid is playing on a large plinko board.
Picture of the Million Bazillion Live! Who Wants to be a Bazillionaire? Tour, Source: Greenlight

In certain cities, the tour has also planned a family game night where parents can join and learn about important financial topics together with their kids. The Million Bazillion team and Greenlight are targeting middle schoolers because they are the primary audience of the Million Bazillion podcast and  because middle schoolers have limited knowledge of personal finance. “Some high schools have financial education, although it is not required and many states do not have it. But middle schoolers have less exposure to the topic. This is a range where kids can still learn and begin to form habits and attitudes about money that will set the groundwork for their financial journeys,” Seitz said. 

The tone of the game show is set by the podcast Million Bazillion, which in its 5 seasons has cultivated a deep understanding of how to connect with teenagers; the podcast is replayed 100,000 times monthly. “Our On-Demand Team, led by Director Bridget Bodnar, has a real pulse on what this age group already knows vs. what constitutes a lesson. If you want to impress middle schoolers, you need to really wow them with a fun experience. So, we transformed our podcasts into this high-octane, interactive performance,” said Neal Scarbrough, vice president & general manager of Marketplace. 

Even though schools don't generally offer financial education, students are eager to learn about the topic and tend to have a deep curiosity about how money works in the real world. "We do see that students have real philosophical questions about the money they know they will soon need. Like, who sets the price of rent? How does a credit card work? Why would women make less than men? They usually know there’s something behind a simple question that grownups need to stop and explain,” Scarborough said. 

To engage its audience, the Million Bazillion podcast creates scripted scenarios that immerse students in funny stories as well as raise questions about money. The game show tour is taking these learnings on the road. Greenlight’s ongoing partnership with Marketplace has helped the podcast air for half a decade and also funded Marketplace’s video podcast for young adults called Financially Inclined. “Our shared visions of financially savvy families and kids are in lockstep, and they have consistently partnered with us to help deliver this important content to our future bosses,” Scarborough added.

The game show is a point of entry

Greenlight is not hoping for a one-hit wonder with this campaign. Instead it is using the tour as its foot in the door for reaching more eyes and minds than it has before. Greenlight will continue to have a presence at the middle schools in the tour, even after the game show is over, because many of the schools have opted into its “Greenlight for Classrooms” product. This is a K-12 personal finance curriculum for schools in the form of a free, web-based library of lessons and teaching materials. Already 500 teachers across the country have signed up for Greenlight for Classrooms, according to the fintech. 

A picture of the lesson library of Greenlight for Classrooms. Each lessons has engaging and colorful art as feature  images. The lessons cover topics like credit, saving attitudes, and opportunity cost.
Greenlight for Classroom's lesson library, Source: Greenlight

The fintech also has products that go beyond the formal teaching environment of a school. Its financial literacy focused game Level Up has supported over 1 million lessons, which were completed with an average score of 88.4%. 

Greenlight has both B2C and B2B products which seem to feed off of the success of the other. For example, the fintech launched Greenlight for Work this year, which is a benefit program through which employers give their workers  access to a suite of family finance and education products. Similarly, Greenlight for Banks allows banks and credit unions to offer Greenlight’s banking and education products to their customers, for free. Its personal finance app has 6 million users and when the Million Bazillion tour comes to an end, the company would have toured the country, in search of many more. 

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