Investing in our Community’s Future Through Financial Literacy

We regularly work with local partners in a number of areas to carry out the philanthropic work of our community. From generous donors and financial advisors, to educators and nonprofit organizations, we couldn’t do our work without them. Sometimes one of our partners is the best person to speak about topics in their field of work. Today’s blog is from Mark Nelson, president of operations for Planet Fitness – Kueber Group and fund holder of the Financial Foundations Fund.

I’ve always had a passion for financial literacy, whether it was on a macro or micro level. Despite my passion, I, like many, graduated high school with very limited knowledge and made many of the common financial mistakes young people make. Unfortunately, I had to learn fiscal responsibility the hard way.

Mark Nelson, president of operations for Planet Fitness and Kueber Group, speaks during the Financial Foundations Fund announcement at CKCF’s Home of Philanthropy.

I am very appreciative of the education I received from Hardin County Schools and proud of the wonderful teachers who worked tirelessly to help guide my education. Despite this quality education, financial literacy instruction was lacking. I had little knowledge or understanding of how personal finance and the economy works. I had some wonderful teachers. I can remember fondly my business and some math courses introducing some basic finance concepts, but they were not financial literacy courses.

Fast forward a couple of years, I was blessed to advance in my career and began investing in the local area. What I discovered in my time working with our public company in its infancy was many entry-level managers simply do not have some basic financial literacy foundations in their education. We’ve had many talented individuals enter our companies but, in many cases, we had to start from scratch on some of their basic financial skills needed for budgeting, economies of scale, return on investment, and more.

Where my passion really took off is when we got large enough to start a retirement program for employees. However, I was disappointed to find many employees chose not to participate.

The reason they didn’t participate almost always came back to a lack of understanding of concepts like compounding interest, money being matched by the company, and financial markets. Also, when you are young, it’s hard to think about 30 and 40 years later for retirement. Arguably, this is one of the principal concepts young people SHOULD be thinking about. It was heartbreaking to see so many young professionals with so much talent not think about their financial future. I realized I was no different when I was their age. I wish I could talk to the young me and force myself to take my personal finances seriously. But now, after some focused education, I am proud to say nearly 90% of eligible employees participate in our retirement program.

To that end, I was very excited to see the passage of the financial literacy bill for education that occurred recently in our great state. However, I became concerned when I realized limited funding would not allow our school districts to provide the best programs to truly make financial literacy successful for our students. That’s when my wife, Sheree, and I decided to find a way to support the legislation and help our public schools have the best tools possible. It was too important to our community not to.

And now, I challenge all other business leaders to consider the same in each of your communities and for those in Hardin County to support this fund. These students are our future customers, employees, and neighbors. Investing in their financial future is key for the continued overall well-being in our area and our country. Let us be leaders in this financial legacy!

To give to the Financial Foundations Fund, go to

Mark Nelson
Financial Foundations Fund holder
President of Operations for Planet Fitness and the Kueber Group

Central Kentucky Community Foundation has a long history of serving this community through 52 years as North Central Education Foundation.

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