The Money Hub
Using the power of technology and story-telling to teach financial literacy to youth in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
I am not an employee of BNY Mellon, or an immediate family member of a BNY Mellon employee
I am over 18 years of age
My organization is incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or I have a partner that is incorporated and could accept funds on my behalf
I have already piloted my initiative and have some initial evidence of impact
My organization is headquartered and creating impact in the United States
Where are you making a difference?
New York: New York City (five boroughs)
Focus Areas (required)
Business & Social Enterprise
Children & Youth
Development & Prosperity
August / 29 / 2016
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
1.Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed.
As a millenial, a common problem that my peers and I face is feeling constantly broke, that not being financial savvy prohibits us from attaining our goals. One afternoon I was playing basketball with some of my friends and in the middle of their complaints about money problems, I realized that not only did we not have money, we also did not know what to do with once we got it. It made me think, what did we learn in school that prepared us financially? And the answer was nothing. I had some knowledge because my dad messed up, my mom learned, saved, built her credit and got us a stable home. I had an idea to create personal finance workshops and make them relatable and easy to understand.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
According to the New York City Department of Education, the largest public school system in the country, 75% of enrolled students in 2016-2017 school year lived in poverty. About 4 in 10 adults ages 18 to 29 currently have student loan debt. DOE does not mandate personal finance classes. Combine this with predatory check cashing places and payday loans plaguing low-income/ immigrant neighborhoods, young people are set up for failure.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
The Money Hub works to innovate the way financial literacy is taught through the use of mobile technology. We bring a 4-part workshop that covers full curriculum.
Day 1 students are introduced to our app and use it for initial survey, build dreams into goals, budget and build a savings. Day 2 is all about banking, credit cards and credit scores. They learn the difference between credit and debit card, write a check, compare credit cards, build credit score and buy assets. Day 3 is about Income. Activities include mock interviews and "Shark Tank" style pitch. Day 4 is half Investments and half is competing in our game mode within the app. The app generates a progress report using our algorithm to see increase in knowledge and compares result with their age group. Students have full access to app for continued application of money-savvy behaviors.
We teach using anecdotes and story-telling to grasp in our students, whiteboard animated videos to simplifying topics and app-based games to put into practice what they learn. We train and certify workshop facilitators that create an open environment for interaction, activities for engagement, and mentorship to correct misconception
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.
From our inception, we taught financial literacy at Brotherhood/Sister Sol in Harlem. We conducted workshops for college-bound seniors. We learned that they had misconceptions of student loans, not app savvy and a career path decided solely on highest starting salary. Schools misled them, instead of preparing them, about student loans and instilled no sense of the cost of college living. We taught about alternatives such as grants and fellowships to cover cost, apps for budget and importance of credit scores. We aid in realizing their financial future is under their control and how exciting that is! We proposed a challenge, graduate with no credit card debt, a savings, and 750+ credit score. They will message our Instagram when they achieve it, verify in app and reek the rewards. Two years in, our first year alums have a budget and a credit card. We expect those Instagram messages soon.
5a. Too many people in the U.S. have unmet needs for financial products and services. How is your work reaching a population(s) that is currently underserved? If it is not reaching an underserved population yet, how might it in the near future?
Our target population are low-income and immigrant neighborhoods. We currently conduct workshops in some of the poorest tax brackets and poorly funded school zones. We work in Harlem, South Bronx, Brooklyn, Far Rockaway, and my hometown of Jamaica. We are in these neighborhoods teaching young people about the digital access to financial products and services all while keeping them away from predatory activities. We have been recognized for our work by Queensledger, Spring Bank, and Bronxnet One.
5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:
age - youth
6. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?
There are many programs and initiatives that seek to teach financial literacy but they do not have the full formula for getting young people of color fully interested in caring about their money. There are organizations that do workshops, but facilitators are not relatable to the kids. There are those that use story-telling but the stories don't encompass the struggle of growing up colored and poor. There are apps out there that candy crush-ifies finlit, but they don't leave with actual, applicable components. Our combo of people, stories and tech has the juice to make it real for them.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Our goal is to make being financially savvy cool. To do this our teaching style is not traditional. We measure impact through activities, games and competition. They are taught through anecdotes that are both relatable and applies to their situation as a person of color growing up in an expensive city. We track through intake surveys and performance in activities. Their test is our financial literacy gaming app where they apply what they learned. We compare their pre-survey with game scores, coupled with participation and application, increase in literacy is determined. In a span of 1.5 years we have worked with 15 different organizations. We have conducted 51 workshops impacting approximately 800 students. We have awarded amazon gift cards to 16 teams. We have 90% approval rate, 95% retention rate and 100% fun. All this accomplished through the starting team and no funding pursued yet.
8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?
Our strategy for scaling is through the development of our technology and our facilitators. Gen Z and younger are on their smartphone so our app has to be just as dynamic. We want to do our entire workshop through the app, which will unlock access to our social platform designed for financially savvy young people. Now they can consume meaningful content and have a one-stop hub for their budget, banking, credit accounts, financial information and games. The facilitators will keep the topics relatable. The cash prize will help develop out our app and the visibility will bring us new partners.
8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?
Industry Standards (labels, certification, awards, etc.)
9. Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?
Keeping a solid, long-term contracts of funding and revenues with multiple streams. The start-up cost of the technology-workshop model is low compared to the amount of kids we can reach. This means more funds can be allocated towards growth. Our biggest source is to get contracted by the DOE, largest in the country. That means we're in every school, also increasing app revenue. We will have foundations, city, federal and the mayor's office funding for growth projects as well.
10. Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
Our board approves our curriculum plan and it consists of educators, financial professionals, executives, financial literacy advocates with 10+ years of experience teaching and community leaders. Co-Founder, Columbia MPA, investment banker and teaches entrepreneurship. CTO and Director of Communication design and manage development of app and tech. Workshop facilitators consist of JP Morgan bankers and Economists who look like the kids they teach. Program Managers that bring us all across NYC.
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 - Which of the following categories do you identify with? (optional)
Self-identify race, ethnicity, or origin
If you replied "Self-identify race, ethnicity, or origin" in the question above, please specify. (optional)
I am a Bengali American. Our marginalization gets lost in the categorization as Asian Americans.
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)
Communities of color
How did you hear about this challenge?
If you replied "Other" in the question above, please specify. (optional)
Recommended by John-Paul Parmigiani, Director, Impact Hub New York City