Economics Education Initiative (EEI)

Gamifying financial literacy education for underprivileged teens through personal workshops and a mobile application.

Photo of Aditya Desai

Written by

Additional categories (optional)

  • Education
  • Technology

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Website: www.eeinj.org; Instagram: @eei.nj

Date You Started Your Project Started

06/20/2017

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Financial literacy—a fancy term for saying make it, spend it smart, and don’t blow it—is a critical skill in the 21st century. Unfortunately, however, 69% of all high school students, predominantly of color, lack the basic knowledge to create and manage financial resources. The EEI resolves this conflict: Our financial literacy curriculum enables students of low socio-economic backgrounds to build human capital, and ultimately maximize income!

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

To address the lack of financial literacy in minority groups, I started the EEI, or Economics Education Initiative. Our approach to raising fiscal skills is accomplished through two main channels: Interactive personal lessons and a Mobile Application. We’ve established partnerships with communal organizations—Boys and Girls Clubs, After School All Stars, Local non profits—in 4 cities, and routinely use those facilities to conduct gamified workshops in the fields of entrepreneurship, budgeting and global enterprise. Our sessions are divided into two sections: (1) Activities (global trade simulation, mock company) and (2) Reflection (review of concepts). Through transforming the process into a collective activity, we’re proud to say that here at the EEI, financial literacy is no longer a hardship; it’s a diversion, and most of all a paradise that prepares students for life. But even then, to extend the scope of our work, we’ve successfully piloted our proprietary financial literacy application. It caters personal finance based games to underprivileged populations to hone money management abilities—not with the old school ‘memorization methodology,’ but via our enticing games.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

A summer research internship turned health intervention left me in slums of Harlem alone—with a pen, survey, and clipboard, of course. Walking from one poverty-stricken individual to another, I sought answers to my questions: “How much would you spend on a necessary medication? How much would you spend on a pair of new shoes?” The results were appalling; nearly one-half of respondents were unwilling to pay a higher price for a fundamental prescription than a new pair of jordans, per say. That’s when it hit me: these individuals have no background of financial literacy, or budgeting—even if they’re able to get a job, they don’t know how to manage an income. Out of that one night in Harlem, the EEI was born with a singular commitment to start personal finance education at a young age in underprivileged neighborhoods to ultimately break the cyclical nature of poverty.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Our paths to engagement take two different turns, defined by geographic location. Primarily, the communal organizations we’ve partnered with in the past spread our name by word-of-mouth or via social media to other institutions in the tri-state area. Propositions from new facilities are then evaluated from a logistical perspective, and if feasible, we begin to coordinate a schedule with that organization for our interactive workshops. Conventionally, workshops are set up to be twice per week for a total of 4 weeks per location. However, for organizations that want to receive the EEI’s lessons, but don’t fall in our geographic range, we conduct bi-weekly lessons over Skype introducing a new game within our mobile application. To culminate both paths, we conduct recorded ‘3-second snippets,’ where each of our students get to share what they’ve taken away from the EEI!

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Across the public sphere, financial literacy is seen as a tedious and lifeless task, however, the EEI drastically alters this preconceived image. Indeed, here at the EEI, we’re committed to gamifying the process: each of our lessons begins with some type of economic simulation, ranging from budgeting raisins to trading pearls on the basis of supply and demand. Furthermore, we incorporate our mobile application, a contemporary element, within our curriculum. At large, our endeavors effectively transform financial literacy into an exciting, and immersive field.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

The EEI has been established for two years, and the scope of our impact is undoubtedly compelling. As of 2019, the EEI has garnered the support of 30 volunteers, in 4 hub cities, to empower more than 250 underprivileged students with financial literacy education. But even then, our mobile app is currently projected to reach over 1,000 additional students when it gets released to the mass-market later this year. Compiling donations of over $1,000, the EEI has also been successful in securing proper financial backing. While numbers always underscore effort, we take tremendous pride in seeing the impression of our program in students’ lives. Truly, the gratification provided by seeing one of our former students pursuing a college education, or launching a business exceeds any form of monetary delight; he/she, after all, is a true manifestation of the EEI’s efforts.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Despite getting the EEI off the ground, we have aspirations for expansion over the next few years. We're in the process of securing 501(c)(3) status—upon its completion in the next few months, funding opportunities will naturally increase, fueling enlargement. Furthermore, I’m currently working on establishing a partnership with a community foundation in the Dominican Republic, as it’s my long-term goal to bring the EEI overseas. Policy initiatives are also at the core of our efforts; I’m presently drafting a proposal to my district representative to employ the EEI’s curriculum in education-focused nonprofits throughout the region. Finally, we recently finished our first promotional video, and strive to grow our social media accounts!

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • T-Mobile page or contact

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 66.7%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 33.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 50%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

10 comments

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Spam
Photo of Sarah Holcomb
Team

Hi Aditya! Great work here — financial literacy is an essential (and yet often overlooked) part of education. The gamified approach and quality of your curriculum are really impressive. I’d encourage you to explore more opportunities to co-create with peers as you scale the EEI — perhaps graduates of the EEI could help lead or serve as mentors. For project plan & strategy resources I’d suggest checking out TechStar’s toolkit: https://toolkit.techstars.com/. Best of luck!

Spam
Photo of Aditya Desai
Team

Ms. Holcomb: Certainly—a vast portion of U.S. teens, especially in underprivileged groups, never even receive basic financial literacy training. I'll definitely take a look at TechStar's toolkit for future planning, and strategy. Thank you so much for suggesting this resource!

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