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CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Winners of Florida Students $ave Essay Contest Promoting Financial Planning Among High School Students


Contact: Alexis Lambert
(850) 413-2842
TALLAHASSEE—Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced today the five  top winners in the Florida Students $ave Essay Contest, a statewide contest held for Florida high school students to get them to think about the importance of planning for their economic futures. CFO Atwater is announcing the winners as part of Financial Literacy Month.

The contest was divided into five regions, with first-, second- and third-place winners in each region. Participants included students from public, private, and home schools who wrote about specific goals such as launching businesses, buying their first home and graduating from college debt-free.
“Congratulations to all students who participated in the Florida Students $ave Essay contest,” said CFO Atwater. “These young Floridians are the leaders of tomorrow, and I appreciate the time and effort that was put into writing such quality essays. Their teachers, parents and mentors are to be commended for encouraging them to develop financial skills that will prepare them for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.”
The essay contest was sponsored by the Department of Financial Services, as part of CFO Atwater’s Your Money Matters initiative, in partnership with Florida Master Money Mentors, The James Madison Institute and Florida Council on Economic Education. These partner organizations served as judges for the contest, which awarded cash prizes of $250 for first-place, $150 for second-place and $50 for third-place winners.
Listed below are the first-place winners in each region:

Jacksonville                           Alexis Brown                          Stanton College Preparatory School

Northwest Florida                   Mary Amelia Rodriguez         Pensacola Catholic High School     
Orlando                                 Elizabeth Hargis                      Christian Heritage Academy

South Florida                          Megan Smoller                        Spanish River High School

Tampa                                   Julia Chew                              Home School
Florida Master Money Mentors provides financial education to rural and low-to-moderate income Florida families. “We had a wonderful time reading the essays and seeing personal finance through the eyes of our youth,” said Dr. Michael Gutter, associate professor at the University of Florida. “It is important to keep the dialogue alive with them so they can be ready to take charge of their finances as they get older.”
The James Madison Institute is a Florida-based research and education organization with the mission of keeping the citizens of Florida informed about their government. “We were pleased to partner with CFO Atwater on a project that allowed students the opportunity to share ideas on what it means to be financially responsible citizens,” said Dr. Bob McClure, president of The James Madison Institute. “It is encouraging to see so many young people enthusiastic about contributing to the future of their communities and our state.”
“It is critical to prepare our young people not only to take their place in the workforce but to safeguard their financial security through thoughtful approaches to budgeting, saving and investing,” said Florida Economic Education Council Executive Director Robin Warren. “We applaud CFO Atwater and the Department of Financial Services for creating this essay contest that inspired students to plan for their financial futures.”
To learn more about essay contest winners around the state and view winning essays, visit or call the Division of Consumer Services’ helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236).
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services.  CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.