How do you get hundreds of teens excited about financial literacy? First, invite them to a rock concert. 

The Iowa Insurance Division has invited Gooding — a unique band whose members blend their love of music with a passion for teaching teens about finances — to play for more than 800 middle and high school students on Wednesday in Des Moines. 

It’s the first time that the Iowa Insurance Division has held a financial literacy event in conjunction with the Global Insurance Symposium, which the agency is also hosting downtown this week. 

“I think the fit is very natural,” Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said. “A lot of times as we look at our industry, the companies are grappling with how to reach consumers. We thought it would be appropriate to bring financial literacy together with the innovation that is highlighted in the Global Insurance Symposium.” 

Gooding also founded a nonprofit, Funding the Future, which aims to make financial literacy a requirement in every high school in America.

The band has performed at numerous schools across Iowa in the past couple of years, but never to a group of students this large in a single gathering, said Chance McElhaney, who has seen several of the band’s performances. 

Gooding “draws the kids in and has some serious straight talk about saving, budgeting, earning good credit scores and avoiding predatory lenders, but he doesn’t preach at them,” McElhaney said. “But he tells them stories of musicians, actors and pro athletes who have made fortunes and have blown it all.” 

Many of the Des Moines-area students attending the concert are currently taking classes in financial literacy, which in May 2017 became part of updated social studies standards approved by the State Board of Education. Everfi Inc., an edtech company that provides online financial literacy programs to about 75 percent of Iowa schools, helped to coordinate with local school districts to line up students taking the classes to attend the show. 

A little later in the day, attendees at the Global Insurance Symposium will view a video of that morning’s financial literacy message during a luncheon. On Thursday, the band will perform an acoustic set and hear Gooding’s financial literacy message during a lunch meeting of insurance regulators attending the symposium as well.

Ommen also hopes to plant a seed with those students about future careers. At the concert, organizers will point out that more than 600 insurance professionals from around the world are meeting this week in Des Moines for the symposium. “So we did think of it more broadly than just bringing students in and teaching them a little bit about how to manage their own financial affairs,” he said.