FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Jan. 16, 2020Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF), a nonprofit committed to ensuring that all students leave high school with the skills needed to thrive in an increasingly complex financial world, is pleased to announce 94 students from across the nation have received an Honorable Mention Award in their third annual PAYBACK Challenge, including St. Louis Catholic freshman Kyndal Kohnke.

Over 900 students from across the United States submitted essays earlier last fall. After playing the award-winning college finance game, PAYBACK, students wrote a 250-word essay answering one of these questions:

Write a letter to your future self that you will open after your freshman year of college, reminding you of the key skills you will need to thrive during your college years.


How could you use the online game, PAYBACK, to have a conversation with your parent/guardian about paying for college?

Kyndal Kohnke

St. Louis Catholic Personal Finance teacher Ashley Lavine nominated Kohnke’s essay to her future self, and the essays were judged based on the following criteria:

  • Provides a complete and clear answer to the question
  • Indicates an understanding of key concepts learned by playing the game PAYBACK
  • Articulates thoughts in a creative manner

“Some major points of my essay were to spend my money wisely and to save money, while still having fun in college,” Kohnke said. “I talked about how every decision I make now and in college will greatly impact my future. Overall, my essay was focused on remembering to watch my money spending in college so that I can benefit in life after college.”

Here’s the complete list of winners by state.  Kohnke and the rest of the Honorable Mention winners will receive a $500 award from NGPF to be used for educational purposes.

“To even receive Honorable Mention for this essay is an amazing honor that I am very grateful for,” Kohnke said.  “It shows me that I can do anything I put my mind to and that hard work does not go unnoticed.  I am so thankful for Mrs. Lavine choosing my essay to be entered into this competition and ultimately being the one who taught me so much of what was written in my essay.  Placing Honorable Mention in this contest is something that I will remember for the rest of my life and will benefit me greatly in the future.”

About Next Gen Personal Finance:
Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF), has become the “one-stop shop” for more than 25,000 financial educators looking for high-quality, engaging curriculum to equip students with the financial skills they need to thrive in their future. NGPF now reaches over sixty five percent (65%) of U.S. high school students who attend a school where a teacher is using their curriculum. NGPF has been recognized by Common Sense Education as a “Top Website for Teachers to Find Lesson Plans.”

PAYBACK Fast Facts:
Created by McKinney, digital agency based in Durham, North Carolina, in collaboration with Next Gen Personal Finance

  • Featured in NY Times and recipient of Webby Awards for best Social Impact game and best Education game categories
  • Over 1.2 million game plays since launch in fall of 2017
  • Student engagement based on average length of game: 16.0 minutes