Miami teens demonstrate financial fitness to earn cash for college

May 03, 2012

In a face-off of financial wits, students from high schools across the U.S. and Canada battled for more than $55,000 in college scholarships offered by H&R Block this week in Salt Lake City, Utah. Having already competed against more than 3,600 teams to qualify for the H&R Block Dollars & Sense National Challenge Finals, two teams of Miami teens continued their winning streak and took home the competition’s top honors. Held April 29-30 to close out National Financial Literacy Month, the H&R Block Dollars & Sense National Challenge has competitors navigate an avatar through multiple financial situations in an effort to increase and reward teens’ financial fitness.

Mary Davidson, Juan Castillo and Amanda Pita from Southwest Miami High School each earned a $10,000 scholarship for their first place win. The trio accumulated more than $98,000 of virtual wealth in the final round of the simulation-based competition. Second place went to fellow Southwest Miami students Alex Sanchez, Sergio Salazar and Tristan Coll who are each taking home a $5,000 scholarship. An additional $8,000 in scholarships was awarded to third and fourth place teams.

“Teaching students personal finance is an investment in their future and the H&R Block Dollars & Sense National Challenge helps them learn these important financial skills in an interactive and engaging way,” said Robert Turtledove, chief marketing officer for H&R Block. “These teens not only earned money for college, but are also better prepared for the real financial decisions they’ll be making in the near future.”

Finalists competed in online challenge rounds in October and January to qualify for the live, national finals event. This marks the third year for the H&R Block event and the third time Southwest Miami students have placed at the national level, an accomplishment unmatched by other high schools. Led by teacher Alex Ardao, Southwest Miami students have accumulated more than $65,000 in college scholarships through the H&R Block Dollars & Sense National Challenge. Jessica Garcia and Gretchen Marichal started the trend with a second place finish in 2010 followed by Kiara Hernandez and Mashlie Sanchez who took second in 2011.

H&R Block Dollars & Sense was created to support local schools and help increase teens’ financial fitness and has awarded nearly $3 million in personal finance curriculum and scholarships to high schools and students since launching in 2009. To execute the national challenge, H&R Block partnered with DECA and Knowledge Matters, two leaders in the education field. For more information about the program, visit or


About H&R Block

H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE: HRB) has prepared more than 575 million tax returns worldwide since 1955, making it the country’s largest tax services provider. In fiscal 2011, H&R Block had annual revenues of $3 billion and prepared more than 24.5 million tax returns worldwide, including Canada and Australia. Tax return preparation services are provided in company-owned and franchise retail tax offices by approximately 100,000 professional tax preparers, and through H&R Block At Home™ digital products. The H&R Block Bank provides affordable banking products and services. For more information, visit the H&R Block Online Press Center.

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