2023 Grants Challenge

WOW Youth Financial Citizenship Educational Program

WOW is developing a pilot program, Financial Citizenship for Youth, which delivers accessible, interesting, and engaging financial literacy content to youth ages 6-10. Our goal is to create confidence and understanding around 'money math' so that children begin to learn the importance of managing money. We turn the "M" in "STEM" into MONEY, not just MATH to highlight the connection between math and money for children who are learning multiplication, division, addition and subtraction.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA

West LA

South Bay

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

An epidemic is present in the US; financial awareness is missing in most homes and financial education is absent from most schools. Financial literacy is a complex concept, encompassing multiple aspects related to how individuals manage their resources and engage in financial decision-making while shifting future generations ahead. Only 16% of Americans between ages 18-26 are optimistic about their financial future. The lack of financial education is creating a financial literacy crisis, many American don't earn enough to save or don't save at all. Almost 3/4 of teens lack confidence in their financial ability, 73% want to learn more. With the lack of knowledge, nearly half of teenagers know about investing from social media and receiving false and misinformation. As a combination of debt management, budgeting, and investing, financial literacy is vital for making responsible financial decisions; when buying a home, funding children's education, or ensuring a comfortable retirement.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

The National Financial Educators Council asked 1,101 young adults aged 18-24 "What high school-level course would benefit your life the most?" The majority (51.4%) responded "money management" as the high school-level course they thought would be most beneficial to their personal lives. Topics our pilot will cover include an opening conversation about value (what is value?, How do we decide if something is 'worth' what it costs?), building a basic budget (what are some ways you could INCREASE your budget), and writing and cashing a check (have you ever done this before? Have you ever seen anyone else do this before? Who?, How much would you like to make every week when you grow up?). We then have children write themselves a new check, made out to themselves, for the amount they specifically want to make when they grow up x 2. We then ask them to visualize themselves making at least this much or more when they get their first job. This is basic, simple material but powerful knowledge at its core. When we want to create massive change in our culture, we need to start with the parents to teach them the skills required to educate themselves and pass this knowledge to their children, creating change for generations upon generations. 4 out 5 parents wish they learned more about money as a kid, offering a course to children will empower them to create their own change and encourage their parents to take action, sparking an entire movement.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

In 2010, a U.S. Department of Education study found that 80 % of high school dropouts cited difficulties in math as the primary reason for leaving school (32% of teens can't identify the difference between a credit card and a debit card) and the D.O.E. has partnered with financial institutions, consumer groups, and other government agencies in this effort to create change. California's State Superintendents partnered with several organizations to launch financial literacy awareness in schools. By launching our financial citizenship program, WOW can raise awareness alongside these organizations to make a larger impact on the community. With additional funding and partnerships, we will be able to reach and educate more families and shift the patterns and behaviors of poverty, debt, homelessness, and financial illiteracy. Financial education that lifts families out of poverty, away from abuse and financial strain and changes entire ecosystems, family dynamics, and generations.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

At the beginning of each workshop, we will deliver a questionnaire for each student to complete that will include questions about their current financial IQ and confidence. After the workshop, we will measure success through comprehensive tests, questionnaires and re-connect with each participant (along with their parents) to ask about actions that have been taken, i.e. opening bank accounts in their child's name. One powerful exercise we previously completed with the Downtown Women's Shelter of L.A. was asking the participants to write a letter to themselves about where they see themselves in 1 year. We ask them to be detailed and candid and dream big! We will then hold those letters for them and mail them back in one year so they can see in their own words how they have achieved their goals. This showcases the work we have done to build the whole person, inside and out.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 181,126

Indirect Impact: 362,252