Natalie Brown, left, director of corporate citizenship for Ally Financial, and Keishon Smith present a $10,000 check to David Hinson Middle School Principal William Dunnigan, right.

In celebration of the launch of Fintropolis, Keishon Smith, an Ally Financial Mogul in the Making winner and former student, returned to David Hinson Middle School Nov. 9 to demonstrate the new world in Minecraft he helped create.

The Daytona Beach school received a $10,000 donation to support critical technology and curriculum needs.

Fintropolis is a learning experience created by Blockworks in collaboration with Ally, and available for download in Minecraft. In Minecraft, players explore a blocky, procedurally generated 3D world with virtually infinite terrain, and may discover and extract raw materials, craft tools and items, and build structures or earthworks. Players can modify the game to create new gameplay mechanics, items and assets.

Fintropolis, as a new world in Minecraft, teaches students important basics about money. It was started by four Moguls in the Making interns, including Mr. Smith, who had the idea to teach young people financial concepts with gaming. The computer program’s nationwide launch two months ago already has more than 2 million hits.

Mr. Smith also graduated from Seabreeze High School, competing in football and track. He then went to Florida A&M University to study electrical engineering. It was there he competed in several hackathons where students engaged in collaborative computer programming and presented ideas to judges.

Ally Financial, a leading digital financial services firm, collaborates with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Sean Anderson Foundation on Moguls in the Making

The competition helps foster a better way forward for young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs from the nation’s publicly-supported historically black colleges and universities. Mr. Smith is working as part of the Ally Technology Team.

His team and he won in 2019, giving him an internship with the company

“Five of us were in the initial competition,” Mr. Smith said. “There were four of us in the internship. We went to the internship and created this demo and presented it to the CEO and then it took off. Ally helped promote the game and get it to where it is now. One of their main missions is giving back to the community. This is just one way they can do that. Not only am I giving back to my community but the other students who were part of that internship.”

His mother, Sylvonia Parris, a lieutenant with the state Department of Juvenile Justice, is proud of her son.

“He has always been into creating and coming up with new ideas, even as a child,” Ms. Parris said. “I’m very proud that he was able to be in the competition and assist with coming up with this new game for other people to learn how to deal with financial situations. It’s a big help to young people to know how to deal with money. I’m very proud of him to come back to his school.”

Hinson Principal William Dunnigan said, “We actually have a financial literacy class. The lessons that are imbedded in (Fintropolis), and the kids will be playing it and learning financial literacy, is just perfect for us. So, we’re thrilled he’s here. It’s amazing the type of mind that goes into developing a software game.”

Ally's philanthropic efforts focus on affordable housing, financial education and workforce preparedness, according to Natalie Brown, Ally director of corporate citizenship. “With Moguls we have 50 students across 10 HBCU’s representing their schools, come in for a weekend of learning. They have a business idea based on an industry they receive. Once they get that industry, they’ve got to create a business plan. Each year these students come up with some amazing ideas.”

Using gaming for financial education in a middle school is new for the Ally program.

“They created the concept, presented it to Ally’s CEO (Jeffrey Brown) and Fintropolis was born,” Ms. Brown said. “Children get to have fun and learn about money at the same time. Ally is looking to see how they can reach multiple school districts across the country with the game.”

Students at the Nov. 9 ceremony were allowed to ask questions and play the game.

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