The Issue: High Schoolers' Financial Literacy
Eighty-six percent of teenagers want to learn about managing money in the classroom before facing money mistakes in the real world. Although Illinois is 1 of 15 states that mandates a personal-finance course in high school, these lessons may not be reinforced at home—32% of parents avoid talking to their children about their family's financial situation. This lack of real-world knowledge can lead to financial problems as adults. However, the National Endowment for Financial Education reports that high-school and college students who receive financial education "show an increase in financial knowledge, which in turn drives increasingly responsible financial behavior as they become young adults."
The Campaign: Mentoring Teens About Financial Issues
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by Moneythink to provide financial mentoring for low-income students in Chicago. For every $500 raised, Moneythink can provide a full year of mentoring sessions for five 11th or 12th graders. The mentors leading the sessions are college volunteers, whose age proximity helps to inspire interaction. "College students relate to high school students in a miraculous way that goes beyond cultural or socio-economic barriers," Moneythink co-founder Ted Gonder said. These mentors meet students weekly, and talk about money by using celebrities' public financial woes, such as Wesley Snipes's tax issues. They also map out goals with the students, such as saving for college, and discuss real-world financial planning, including entrepreneurship and budgeting.
While attending the University of Chicago, Ted Gonder looked outside his glittering campus to the underserved neighborhoods around it and realized that his education afforded him opportunities that others didn't have. So he decided to do something about it. He joined with a group of likeminded individuals to form Moneythink—an organization that teaches local low-income students financial skills to help lift them out of poverty. Just four years later, Moneythink was honored by the White House's Campus Champions of Change Challenge for empowering young people to educate themselves on real-world money matters.
Now college students from more than 25 universities across 10 states act as financial mentors for high-school students. They work in small groups with their mentees to plan budgets and goals, such as paying for college or starting a business. But they don't stop there. They want their lessons to extend throughout all of their students' lives to prevent money mismanagement in the future and to help them succeed as adults.
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