Thanks in part to a generous grant from the Charles Schwab Foundation, each year Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club is able to offer its Money Matters program, which teaches teens how to manage a checking account, create a budget, and save for their future. We know that these basic money management skills give our kids the practical foundation they need to reach their full potential and to achieve their dreams at college and beyond.
Over the past year, our teens learned about topics that ranged from the pitfalls of credit card debt, to the benefits of healthy personal credit scores, to what it’s like to own a business. We even covered how to apply for financial aid for college (for teens and their parents). Our program also included live presentations from volunteers from the business world who came to the Club to talk to the kids about the cumulative impact of their spending habits and the positive benefits of saving and fiscal responsibility.
One of the highlights of this year’s Money Matters program (before the COVID shutdown) was a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings in Hicksville. The General Manager, Kevin Green, spent valuable time with the kids to talk to them about general business operations, managing staff, and the difference between managing a franchise and a privately–owned business. It was an informative trip that taught our members a lot about business in an interactive, engaging (and delicious) way.
Despite the recent months of taking our Money Matters curriculum virtual, the kids continued to learn valuable lessons. One of our participants, Anthony, remarked that, “The pandemic and its fallout made me really want to save and to learn about how to manage my money. It’s scary but it is also motivating.”
We have always known that financial literacy not only builds confidence in kids, but also fosters independence for the long term.
And this year, we had further affirmation of the value of this program. Just a few weeks ago, we learned that one our teens in the program who is heading off to college in the fall, Jimmy Mejia (who is also our 2020 Youth of the Year!), was awarded a Money Matters Scholarship by the Charles Schwab Foundation. From a large pool of Boys and Girls Club of America applicants from around the country, Jimmy is one of only 11 teens to win this prestigious award! In accepting this honor, Jimmy was given a chance to showcase much of what he had learned in the program, sharing with representatives of the Foundation all he knew about Roth IRAs and 401Ks!
We are so proud to know that Jimmy has many of the tools he will need to manage his finances responsibly… and based on his conversations with the Foundation, it seems like he might even be ready to start saving for his retirement!